APEX Annual Conference – A Technical & Innovation Stunner!

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Seattle, Washington hosted this year’s IFE and content extravaganza and if you didn’t attend we hope to paint a summary picture for our readers in this edition and the next as well. Furthermore, we will cover many of the bigger stories in detail in the forthcoming months. Watch for show pictures on our website via Flickr. Lastly, we want to thank APEX and their management team for a great expo. Boeing, Panasonic, & Astronics for wonderful evening entertainment, and finally, all the vendors who pay for the show. You rock!

Speaking of trends, here are a few we noticed: Open Platform Apps, Ka Band Buzz, Connectivity – to satellites and the ground, Distributed cabin Wi-Fi to multiple platforms (iOS, Android and Windows), and Seat-Centric style Entertainment.

We wanted to highlight offerings and new developments from suppliers who invited us to drop by and check out their wares. This is the first of the two summary articles in no particular order:

KID-Systeme is back with a new logo and the next iteration of their seat power box installed in the Recaro economy seat bar. The module contains no fans and airline interest has recharged the system as it provided seat 25 watts for each seat and 150 watts of 110 AC power for portable devices. Rumor has it that they are looking at a big order approaching 100 A/C.

Rockwell Collins announced their dPaves 3 IFE system destined for single aisle (and twins too) as an inseat video system. Truly seat oriented, dPaves 3 is an upgrade path from previous editions and features solid state memory.

Lufthansa Systems and Virgin America rolled out their single aisle IFE system that features inseat screens/hardware (for Early Window and networked entertainment and TV) and Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11n) to passenger devices via an app. The device features 128GB SSD for content storage and is expected to grow.

Carlisle showed their newest fiber optic connector dubbed OCTAX for Ethernet and HD video. About the size of your little finger, OCTAX is a quad channel, round F.O. connector that sports a release pin and can deliver 10 gigabits per second, or higher. The Carlisle crew says it will have a home in data loaders, seat-to-seat connections and in IFE backbone deliveries.

Here’s a new name, Kontron, and we expect to hear a lot more from them. They acquired AP Avionics (Remember their modems and WAPS?) and we found out they are the hardware manufacturer for Lufthansa Systems new IFE product, Board Connect. Kontron is a German company with sales worldwide and are the builders of industrial computer and imbedded systems. This is an OEM to watch.

We were knocked out by the new AIRVOD IFE system. Chosen for 2 Omni Air B-777 aircraft, the system is equipped with a beautiful touchscreen and driven driven by a “lossy line” backbone with “seatcentric” architecture. Did we mention the Terrance Bonar had registered “seatcentric” as a trademarked term years back? When we asked about legal protection, Terrance quipped: “Why, other users of the term are advertising for AIRVOD.” Hmmmm! We should also mention that the Avianor seats used to demonstrate the hardware were beautiful and, surprisingly, they were refurbs. There were too many features of this system to mention here but we will follow up later.

Thales showed some beautiful IFE hardware that we will cover in a later article. The displayed a terrific Bucher inseat video arm used in the Thales Integrated Front Row IFE system that can accommodate a video display up to 12.1 in. Dave Pook took IFExpress thru their moving map display program and demonstrated integration with GeoRadio, the audio entertainment software that “tells” viewers about the points of interest below, triggered by GPS data. Of interesting note was Boeing’s cancellation of a live demonstration of the Thales GateSync product. This is a valuable development for aircraft data handling and we are hoping for an eventual update to report to out readers.

The TriaGnoSys team rolled out their connectivity development (in conjunction with Siemens) called IFEConneX. You will hear more about this one box wonder from us but it delivers media content and inflight connectivity to passengers during flights via a ‘leaky line’ technology and looks ideal for non-IFE equipped planes like business jets. By incorporating both connectivity and entertainment in one box.

The IMS RAVE and EDGE products were smart and worked like a UI should. We liked the commonality across their product line and how simple and effective the swipe technology is for IFE. By the way, the Samsung Galaxy tablet product for American Airlines looked great.

As an aside, John White asked us to mention that the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle is construction a new $300 million dollar building at their South Seattle location and have verbally committed to an IFE wing. It seems the museum brass was really impressed with the industry offer of legacy and historic IFE hardware for their museum (The Smithsonian was not!). If you or company wants to donate your historical IFE artifacts please contact John.

PEOPLE DYNAMICS
Bryan Rusenko is now VP IFE Technology & Strategy, Technicolor and they have an interesting automated content service – more later.
Al McGowen is back in the Goodrich commercial world as Director, Business Development. We wonder if the United Technologies acquisition is a driver?
Patrick Joly of DTI fame is now with Spafax as Director Digital Platforms. When he explained the digital platform convergence that is changing the inflight information content paradigm, we got it. Have him explain it to you – it’s the next thing in IFE communication.
Darrel Chua turned up as President of his game development company Enveesoft. His team in China has some very interesting games in development.
Tracy DeCuir is back in the IFE space (as if he ever left).
Colin Mahoney, New VP Sales, Marketing, and Support, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems was on hand (He is the new Randy Lincoln). IFExpress should also note that the new IFE PR contact is Josh Baynes.
Good News! World renown bon vivant Andre De Greef is back with LiveTV.

Special recognition from IFExpress goes to Inflight Canada for their espresso stand and rest area. Why special? It seems George Smallhorn and the team was forced to remain in Canada for business reasons and could not attend. Rather than simply give up their booth space, they hired a barista, brought in some comfortable furniture and turned their booth into a rest stop for the weary. Nice touch!

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