Something To RAVE About!


Skip the cheesy byline, RAVE by IMS is the paradigm shifter we referred to last issue. Dubbed “Reliable Audio Video Entertainment,” RAVE is best described as a “seat centric” embedded IFE system that is focused on the seat display unit in front of each passenger—not the plethora of traditional distribution LRU’s through the aircraft or the head end servers interconnected by a miles of wires. The RAVE system is built from only two major LRUs compared to traditional IFE systems that require ten or more major LRUs to deliver the passenger entertainment. The RAVE System, as far as we can see, is a next generation IFE solution targeted to address current embedded IFE system shortcomings (cost, reliability, weight, crew manageability) while providing equal functionality.

IMS has been a solutions provider in the IFE industry for almost 15 years. During this time they have successfully deployed the industry-leading onboard content & data loading solution, as well as becoming the leading provider of portable in-flight entertainment solutions. They have also been providing engineering systems and software support to different OEMs for airborne connectivity and embedded IFE systems.

RAVE is a uniquely architected embedded solution that provides autonomous seat display units, operating with either a wired or wireless communications backbone, with each containing all applications and content. This means that there is no dependency on any other LRUs to deliver a full and rich AVOD experience to the passenger. Traditional IFE system store passenger application, entertainment content and playback capabilities at the head end and depend on the entire distribution chain to deliver the experience to the passenger. If one head end LRU were to fail, or if one distribution LRU were to fail, many seats are rendered inoperative.

The RAVE SDU has an input for power and an input for Gigabit Ethernet. With the wireless communications backbone option, the wired Gigabit Ethernet input is eliminated. Content is loaded to the SDUs via Ethernet from the System Control Unit (SCU). The SCU is the single head-end LRU that provides aircraft interfaces along with content loading features. This LRU is based on the very successful IMS Terminal Data Loader (TDL) with improvements and modification to integrate within RAVE.

IMS has carefully listened to airlines and addressed the inevitable seat failure scenario. They’ve heard more than once that their PMPs are more reliable than embedded solutions. With RAVE, if a SDU were to fail, the airline has the option of allowing crew members to exchange the failed unit with a spare carried onboard the aircraft—just like with PMPs. The replacement SDU will snap right into the seat back and be ready to go, with no delay. This feature alone will have flight crews used to dealing with failed traditional embedded IFE standing to cheer as they now have a remedy for unhappy customers.

The design and development of seat centric IFE system that meets all regulatory requirements is not a trivial task. Many IFE ventures in the past have tried this approach and have failed. Why will IMS succeed where others have failed? Joe Renton, IMS Founder & CEO noted, “IMS has leveraged new technology, ten-plus years of IFE experience, and years of airline feedback to design and develop an extremely reliable IFE solution. Airlines now have the choice to install a lighter, more reliable, and more cost effective IFE solution.”

The IFExpress take on RAVE is that it is targeted for that portion of the market that is not served, or has been poorly served, by the “big dogs” in the industry—that is, those airlines who can’t afford traditional embedded IFE or those who have had less than favorable experiences with traditional embedded IFE. IMS has focused on creating a highly reliable IFE system that is available at a disruptive price and from what we can tell, they have hit their mark.

RAVE Block Diagrams (Adobe PDF - Click to View)

RAVE Block Diagrams (Adobe PDF - Click to View)

Rod Farley, President and COO of IMS notes, “RAVE will support screen sizes of 8.5, 10.6, 12.1, and 15.4 inches all of which are built from common elements to further enhance system reliability and performance.” Farley comments that Rave will be available in Q1 2011.

IMS rolled out RAVE for this past WAEA and but didn’t have time to develop brochures, however we talked them into providing system level block diagrams and you can find them here.

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