Airline headsets big boost for Phitek
Fiddling with headset sockets on planes could become a thing of the past, thanks to Auckland technology company Phitek.
The noise-cancelling headphone-maker has tripled its annual profit to $1.1 million and is back inventing after axing its consumer division and refocusing on its airline business.
The company has developed a magnetic connector for audio devices such as headsets that airlines could use in place of conventional pins and sockets.
"That eliminates the problem of connector pins breaking off inside seat audio jacks when passengers leave their seats while inadvertently still connected," chief executive Roy Moody said.
"It is a significant loss for airlines if seats are rendered inoperable."
Moody said the magnetic connectors had been tested on a flight by a Middle Eastern airline and he hoped they would be commercially available in the first quarter of next year after a "fairly lengthy certification process".
He hoped they would become a common feature in economy-class as well as business and first-class cabins.
Phitek, which employs 30 staff, came close to failing in 2010 after an ultimately unsuccessful bid to establish itself in the broader consumer market.
Shareholders, including venture capital funds K1W1 and TMT Ventures, considered pulling the plug after its losses reached $34.5m. But they instead decided to bail out the company through a $6 million loan and subsequent rights issue which valued the company at just $1m, after deciding it had a profitable core.
Revenues for the year to March were $16m, of which $6.9m came from the consumer-headset business that Phitek quit in November. Its revenues from continuing operations were up 9 per cent.
Moody said this year's result was very pleasing. Now that Phitek had refocused on serving the airline market, it could again look forward to strong growth.
- © Fairfax NZ News