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October 1, 2017

Launch of the 「Flying without crying for babies」 Project

~Baby Mug and hitoe® High-Performance Material Delivers Infant Comfort and Well-Being~

All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA; headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Yuji Hirako), Combi Corporation (Combi; headquartered in Taito-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Hironobu Goshima), Toray Industries, Inc. (Toray; headquartered in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, President: Akihiro Nikkaku) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Co., Ltd. (NTT; headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Hiroo Unoura) have launched the “No More Tears Baby! Airplane” Project (referred to below as the “project”).

=> Press Release
=> Molecular and Bio Science Research Group

Mothers and fathers with small children worry about inconveniencing surrounding passengers if infants cry during flights, and a not insignificant number of parents are said to put off travelling by air until their children are older.

The project endeavors to draws on the strengths of each company to develop products that help to equalize ear pressure and alleviate earaches caused by changes in cabin pressure, which is considered to be the number one reason infants cry inflight.*1 It will also promote research into technologies to monitor the state of comfort or discomfort felt by infants based on such biological information as infant heart rate, and predict when loud crying may be imminent.*2

The project was launched on the back of a partnership between ANA, which aims to provide parents of small children with a care-free flying experience, Combi, a company with an outstanding track record and extensive knowhow in the development of baby products, and Toray and NTT, which jointly developed the “hitoe” , high-performance material capable of monitoring biological information over long periods and are working on the development of various related services. NTT Communications (100% NTT-owned subsidiary), a proven provider of services using “hitoe” technology, will also lend its expertise to the project to support future commercialization efforts.

The first stage in the project will be a “Baby Charter Flight” exclusively for families with small children, targeting employees of all four companies with infants under 3 years of age. Trials*3 will be conducted during this flight to confirm the effectiveness of baby mugs and tablets in equalizing ear pressure, as well as to predict the behavior of infants inflight using “hitoe” technology.

In the future data and information on a body of inflight and other corroborative evidence will be collected in an effort to make “Flying without crying for babies” a reality. Efforts will be made to continue the momentum of the project to help bring about a happy society for families with small children by creating relaxed environments in which parents can take infants.

*1 ... Ear Equalizing Aid (promotes self-clearing of Eustachian tubes) – Baby Mug
Pressure differences arise between the middle ear membrane and external air pressure when changes in cabin pressure occur during takeoff or landing, causing ears to ache or become blocked enough to cause discomfort. This pain can be the reason that infants and small children cry during flights. Aids that help small children drink liquids or swallow saliva aim to alleviate the pain associated with changes in cabin pressure by equalizing pressure in the ears and opening up the Eustachian tubes to clear the middle ear.

*2 ... Using heart rate to monitor infant behavior
Infants and small children are unable to use words to describe how they feel and therefore it is necessary to observe an infant’s appearance carefully and draw on past experience to determine his/her condition. Monitoring heart rate can help to predict an infant’s behavior as it tends to increases when he/she is crying or agitated and drop when he/she is comfortable or sleeping soundly. Monitoring heart rate allows guardians to quickly detect changes in an infant’s condition, such as signs that the infant is about to start crying.

*3 ... “hitoe” BABY and “hitoe”  BABY Monitoring Application
The “hitoe” BABY technology being developed combines low irritant, gentle-on-the-skin material with an easy-to-wear heart rate sensor that fits around the chest to accurately and non-intrusively measure infant heart rate. The “hitoe” BABY monitoring application takes this further and offers a user-friendly display of infant behavior and changes in this behavior on smartphone devices.

Reference 1: Roles

ANA - Consulting on ways to solve issues and address the concerns of parents and infants while inflight.
Combi - Providing prototypes of infant aids and conducting monitoring surveys
- Consulting on ways to solve issues and address the concerns of parents and infants
Toray - Providing “hitoe” BABY garments
NTT - Providing monitoring system of infant biological information and conducting monitoring survey
- Providing general technical knowhow on “hitoe” and heart rate monitoring technology

Reference 2: Company Overview

Founded in 1952. ANA is Japan’s largest airline with 122 domestic and 87 international routes (as of August 2017). ANA aims to become the world’s leading airline group through an overriding emphasis on customer satisfaction and values creation based on a philosophy of “contributing to a future of dreams on a foundation of security and reliability by connecting the world through the spirit of flight”.

Founded in December 1957 as general manufacturer of infant products. As a company that “supports the important pairing of mother and baby (and everyone involved in baby care)”, Combi works to bring innovative products and services to the world in a concerted effort to improve infant environments.

Founded in January 1926. Toray is a synthetic chemical company with a focus on advanced materials, including fibers and textiles, performance chemicals and carbon fiber composite materials. As a part of the basic materials industry, Toray strives to develop and commercialize new technologies and products that contribute to the global environment, as well as to the safety, security and lifestyle of its people. These efforts are based on a management philosophy of “contributing to society through the creation of new value with innovative ideas, technology and products”

Founded in 1985. NTT is the holding company for the NTT Group, Japan’s largest communications company. NTT is engaged in ongoing and proactive reform to improve sustainable corporate value through strategic practices that anticipate societal changes while continuing to maintain its lead role in info-communication technology innovation.