DPI Labs and SkyCinema Aviation announced today the world's first installation of the Dolby Atmos immersive audio system, installed aboard a private VVIP Boeing aircraft.
Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio experience for theatre and consumer sound systems. Unlike Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound that only use 5.1 and 7.1 'channels' of audio respectively, Dolby Atmos allows up to 128 channels of audio to 64 independent speakers. 10 of these channels are dedicated to a traditional audio 'bed' of 7.1.2 speaker channels and the remaining 118 channels can be assigned audio 'objects'. Content creators and audio mixers can assign and move audio 'objects' within the soundtrack to any given X-Y-Z coordinate within the theatre space creating a truly compelling listener cinema-based experience. Consumer-based Dolby Atmos allows for immersive audio reproduction using a smaller number of speakers for non-theatrical applications.
The main theatre area on the Boeing aircraft includes DPI Labs' 65” OLED UHD ultra-thin 4K display and its SmartLink cabin management system, paired with a Dolby Atmos processor, a joint-engineering effort between DPI Labs and SkyCinema Aviation. The Dolby Atmos theatre area of the Boeing aircraft includes 57 speakers situated around the cabin and above the viewers. The 65” 4K OLED display is the largest and thinnest display available for aircraft today and was introduced by DPI in 2020. Other areas of the aircraft have both Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.
“Dolby Atmos allows for a truly immersive audio experience,” says vice president, worldwide cinema sales and partner management Mike Archer. “Dolby is proud to have worked with SkyCinema Aviation and DPI Labs to bring this to the aviation market with our first Dolby Atmos cinema audio processor flying at 40,000 feet.”
DPI labs specialises in rapidly migrating the latest consumer electronics technologies into the aviation market, which has many limitations and very stringent test criteria. Typically, the availability of the latest popular commercial and consumer electronics available to passengers within an aircraft cabin trails behind home and commercial markets by up to 10 years.
“Working with DPI Labs, we were able to effectively deliver a professional commercial theatre product to the end customer for this aircraft with no lag due to technology migration into the physically-restrictive and test-rigorous aircraft electronics market,” says SkyCinema Aviation co-founder and managing partner Jay McGrath. “This opens the door for all other VVIP aircraft installations, both new and retrofit.”
“What we love about this system is that it's perfect for VVIP retrofit installations,” he continues. “We're able to deliver a truly professional, immersive cinematic experience to the end customer at less than 15 per cent of the cost of a full cabin audio replacement.”
DPI has also made available its dotless remote phosphor LED cabin lighting for business aviation cabins. Branded DPI Slimline Smartlights, the remote phosphor technology offers 'dotless' homogeneous lighting for cabin wash, toe kick and accent lighting. Unlike typical LED strip lighting where individual LEDs can be seen and each diode casts its own light cone, dotless remote phosphor technology uses studio-grade Royal Blue LEDs to energise a coating of phosphor inside the strip. The effect is a smooth 'dot-free' homogenous lighting product resembling traditional fluorescent tubes but with the benefits of much smaller size, minimal energy consumption and much longer life than even normal LED strip lighting.
“Traditional LEDs are great for certain applications but in some cases like upwash, downwash or accent lighting, the requirement is for a smooth homogenous effect with no hotspots or jittery shadows,” says engineering manager Greg DeSmet. “Dotless remote phosphor technology provides that seamless, uniform lighting consistency. We're proud to once again be the first to bring the latest cutting-edge LED technology to the business aviation market.”
The remote phosphor lighting is part of DPI's SmartLight LED strip lighting product line, which uses studio-quality flicker free LEDs for cabin lighting applications. DPI's SmartLights can be measured and cut-to-fit by MROs during installation providing a zero-lead time solution both new aircraft installations as well as quick fluorescent lighting retrofit replacements. DPI's compact lighting power supply modules allow their lighting to be installed into legacy cabin control systems.