Selection of magazines now available via SITA DigitalMedia leveraging Adaptive technology
Singapore | April 6, 2017– Passengers using the Singapore Airlines mobile app can now get free digital magazines on their device. Powered by SITA DigitalMedia using Adaptive technology, the new feature is available on the Singapore Airlines app on both iOS and Android devices. Access to the free reading material is available to passengers before, during, and after the flight.

With this technology, provided by SITA and its partner Adaptive, Singapore Airlines’ customers can enjoy a wide selection of up to date magazines via its app. SITA DigitalMedia not only helps provide a better passenger experience but it also supports the Airline’s efforts to go green and reduce paper production and handling.

Sumesh Patel, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “Singapore Airlines is renowned for its great service and constant desire to enhance the travel experience of its customers. SITA is delighted to be able to offer a service that helps further those ambitions and SITA DigitalMedia is just one of the ways we are assisting Singapore Airlines in delivering this experience by providing entertainment easily and efficiently through its airline app.”

Every day, the airline industry loads up to 100,000 kilograms of newspapers and magazines, with no certainty that it will be read. It is costly to supply and dispose of it. At the same time, 65% of passengers have said they would access entertainment services on their own device while 46% would watch a movie on-board using mobile devices. It is this combination of needs that is driving the industry to provide media and entertainment via digital devices.

SITA DigitalMedia is a self-service entertainment platform which can deliver any kind of content directly to a passenger’s smart device, enhancing the user experience. SITA partners with Adaptive to provide this technology and ensure the latest content choices are available for airlines and airports to offer their customers, from international and foreign language newspapers and magazines to blockbuster movies.

In addition to providing the service on an airline or airport’s own app, SITA also provides DigitalMedia On the Move. This is a portable battery-powered device that can be positioned anywhere in the airport, including airline lounges, and easily moved based on changing requirements. Using any mobile device passengers can access fast downloads of content when they connect to its high-speed Wi-Fi. This can include a wide variety of content such as newspapers, movies, magazines, games and city guides.

The free digital magazines are now available to passengers on Singapore Airlines’ latest versions of the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Android Google Play.

We are still covering the press meetings with APEX Show vendors and will do so for the next few weeks to let our readers get a better feel for our discussions there – our goal is the help everybody understand their products and promotions…

The Lumexis press release said it all best about their announced deal in Portland: Lumexis Corporation today announce that their Fiber-To-The-Screen (FTTS) In-Flight Entertainment system has been selected by Caribbean Airlines for installation on their fleet of B737 aircraft. “We are extremely pleased to welcome Caribbean Airlines as our latest airline customer,” said Jon Norris, Lumexis Vice President Sales. “In addition to continuing the in-service success of the FTTS system, Caribbean Airlines are the launch customer for FTTS Second ScreenTM which enables passengers to use their own tablets and smartphones simultaneously at their seat without interrupting the entertainment running in the FTTS HD monitors.” IFExpress understands that eight of their B737 will be initially involved. In case you don’t know the airline, Caribbean Airlines operates more than 600 weekly flights to 19 destinations in the Caribbean, North and South America and the United Kingdom. The airline’s fleet of 21 is comprised of Boeing 737-800, Boeing 767-300ER and ATR72-600 aircraft. Headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, and with an operational base in Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines employs more than 1600 people. The airline is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Lou Sharkey, President and Chief Operating officer notes, “We are delighted to partner with Caribbean Airlines to bring to their passengers our award winning Inflight Entertainment system”. “Partner” is a good word here and we note, the key concept is to increase customer entertainment choice over their many worldwide routes. We understand the first install will occur in June of 2016.

The folks at Lumexis also stated that they have now developed their 4th generation FTTS system which, we note, features the Android Lollipop Operating System… the first IFE we know that does. This means, as one writer noted, “With Android Lollipop Google is making connectivity a big focus.” Improved connectivity is a big deal with the engineering folks and we see the second screen concept they are so proud of as a real passenger pleaser. However, as they also point out, the majority of airlines want seat back entertainment, but portable IFE is very well accepted as short haul solutions. And speaking of screens, the Lumexis team has developed full HD screens in their IFE offering with multi-touch pinch and zoom. Jon Norris notes that “… we’re talking to over 50 airlines at the moment who are interested in our FTTS line-it offering and considering the product… airlines are solidly considering Lumexis as the fourth IFE option on the B737.”

APEX has just announced that vendor attendees at the APEX TEC conferences will now be charged a fee to participate. As this changes a long-established tradition of TECs being a benefit of membership, IFExpress asked APEX Technology Committee chair and APEX Board Member Michael Childers to explain the reasons.

IFExpress: After years of offering technology committee meetings as a member benefit, why are you now charging?

Childers: There are several reasons. One is that these meetings have, over time, evolved from simply working meetings of various TC Working Groups, to educational conferences attended by people who are not members of the Working Groups, and who are attending for information and educational benefits.

As attendance has regularly increased due to this kind of attendee, the costs of these activities have also risen. It is difficult to distinguish between today’s TECs and the Educational Meetings that we have around the world, and it seemed reasonable to begin to try to achieve parity between the TECs and the Educational Conferences by charging vendor attendees who come for information which is of value.

IFExpress: Are you saying that membership dues no longer cover the costs of these events?

Childers: They do not. Nor does the combination of membership fees and the sponsorships for the TECs cover all of the expenses. Plus, as a direct expense of providing technology leadership, APEX now employs a part-time Technical Director, Bryan Rusenko, who spends a lot of his time helping to plan and execute TECs.

In addition, APEX has now hired a full-time CEO, Joe Leader, and more of Joe’s time than you might imagine actually goes into industry technology and how that is communicated via the TECs. Financial management is a big part of Joe’s leadership responsibility, and he does not believe in association activities that do not pay for themselves. The Board has agreed to look at everything we do as an association and consider how such activities can pay for themselves.

But Joe also believes in delivering value and he has committed to us that he will leverage his extensive contacts to give us access to even better speakers and panelists at future TECsFor example, Joe is directly responsible for landing a major technology company for our TEC program next month. (Come see!)

IFExpress: Haven’t a lot of the TC’s activities in the past depended on volunteerism rather than paid staff?

Childers: They have, but technology has become such a large part of our industry that the increase in volunteers doesn’t cover it. In addition, we are facing the fact that IFEC technologies do not exist in a vacuum—we benefit from and are dependent upon open standard technologies that originate elsewhere.

Content management technologies originating in the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) such as the Interoperable Master Format (IMF); Movielabs, such as IMSC1-2 for closed captions; and the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) and its Common Format, are all examples.

But we now have to look beyond just Content Management and consider such questions as how would open data exchange standards impact the passenger experience. APEX cannot create those standards, but we must be sure that we align our own specifications with them and have a seat at the table when they are developed.

IFEpress: What are the registration fees that APEX is seeking for the TECs?

Childers: $350 for vendor members, and $450 for approved non-members. Airlines  and invited press get in free. Speakers, sponsors, and some active Working Group members are free or discounted.

More News:

  • A recent interesting announcement from Panasonic and Teledyne controls is one of the new data related options being put together for airlines but go beyond IFE. “The companies will combine Teledyne’s Wireless GroundLinkComm+ product suite with Panasonic’s Global Communications Service to provide cost effective connectivity during flight or at the gate. This enhanced offering will leverage both Ku-band service and GSM cellular, enabling aircraft operators to break free from the bandwidth limitations and high transmission costs associated with traditional data communications systems. When combined with Panasonic’s Weather Solutions application and Teledyne’s GroundLink AID+ solution, real time weather can be delivered to the flight deck, resulting in enhanced safety and increased flight efficiency. Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics, said, “With this agreement, Panasonic and Teledyne will create a unique service that uses real-time data transmission to create operational efficiencies and reduced costs for our customers.”
  • Think 40GBASE-T puts an end of the “copper twisted-pair party”? Nope, think lower. Here is a quote from the Tektronix folks: “But in November 2014, IEEE 802.3 put out a call for interest on 25GBASE-T, driven by the likes of Cisco, Microsoft and Intel who recognized 25 Gb/s as a more efficient, cost-effective option for switch-to-server speeds in cloud-based data centers. Hence the 25GBASE-T IEEE study group was formed.” You can read more here.
  • Don’t forget Aircraft Interior North America Exhibition in Seattle, WA. November 4 & 5. We are going there to see the Schott In-Seat Illumination products that use LED’s and fiber optics… not to mention the Star Ceiling interior paneling. See you there. You can register here
  • Be careful on a plane using your iPhone/Android phone and headphones because hackers have been able to use radio waves to control your smartphone via the “antenna” the earphone leads provide… and they can do it up to 16 feet away! Check it out
  • If you are into streaming media, this 2 day event in Huntington Beach is for you: The Streaming Media West expo offers attendees a firsthand look at the leading software, hardware, and network solutions and services in the streaming media industry. Streaming Media West 2015 Registration | Online Video Conference and Expo

Ron Chapman sent IFExpress a message and it said there will be a “GRRRILLA Gala” at NBAA! Stay Tuned, we will be there!

APEX 2013, Anaheim, CA | September 10, 2013– Thales, leader in In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC), is pleased to announce its partnership with Seattle based Survey Analytics LLC, a domain expert in survey technology and
reporting. Together, the organizations will launch a new passenger survey application
and reporting tool planned for release by end of the year. The solution is a powerful research platform for airlines to be able to grow their bottom line through real, in-depth knowledge about passenger behavior and preferences. Convenient for the airline, the application requires minimal lead time to create a survey and to obtain reports of analyzed results

Already proven in a ground based environment, the solution is now available for Thales’s
TopSeries AVANT® Android™ platform. The application supports 22 languages and facilitates an airline’s ability to follow up with passengers post-flight. Thales has secured an undisclosed major airline launch customer

“This partnership enables Thales to provide best-in-class survey and reporting capabilities to our customers that assists them with driving revenue through in-depth knowledge of the expectations of passengers. Survey Analytics is known in the transportation industry and by bringing their product to the cabin opens up new opportunities to our airline customers” said Dominique Giannoni, CEO of Thales’s In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC).

Creating and managing surveys is intuitive and easily facilitates what would typically be regarded as traditionally complex processes in a legacy system environment. The application enables airlines to expand the set of available question types, including graphical ratings and calculating constant sums and complex matrix configurations. Using robust logic and branching features, surveys can be set up in a way that guides the passenger through the survey based on multiple previous answers. The offering includes sophisticated reporting tools that go far beyond basic tabular reporting with capabilities such as cross-tabulation, banner and pivot tables, TURF analysis and data segmentation and trending.

“Our partnership with Thales allows airlines to bring our enterprise grade feedback system to the skies. Airlines now have the ability to actively listen to their passengers in real-time and proactively act on customer feedback. In simple terms, this onboard application makes engagement with customers easy” said Vivek Bhaskaran, CEO of Survey Analytics.

Let’s start with some reminiscing… (Harp music, wavy dissolve)

I remember quite well how when I accidentally got in this whole IFE business, and I do mean accidentally, my IFE greeted me with a blue screen of death and a little Windows logo.

Flash Forward 10 years: The IFE industry is now dominated by Linux Operating Systems with Windows support relegated to a few minor players. Meanwhile the terrestrial world has, in the specialized personal device market, gone through a similar revolution, so perhaps it is time for these two activities to merge?

Lets examine the two industries in a little more detail:

Personal Devices
OK, we all have one, it has email, surfs the net and can even make phone calls. I have an iPhone, and in my office we have a collection of iOS and Android based devices, and yet, a few years ago we were all amazed at just being able to make phone calls from almost anywhere. For me the big change was applications. The first Smartphone I had that allowed me to install or create real apps was my Palm Treo and I loved it. However the world did not seem ready for user installed features on a portable device and the quagmire of choice that comes with it.

Fast forward again: What really changed was the unification of the devices, the OS and more so than the application methods (Development Kits and the ” app store”) that came with it. The developers now had a well-documented set of rules and tools to abide by, and the consumer had a central trustworthy method for customizing their powerful devices.

Both Android and Apple iOS focus on these areas heavily, as do the latest incarnations of Windows and BlackBerry.

Inflight Entertainment* (IFE) Systems
As the name suggests the purpose of these systems onboard is to Entertain passengers. This started with movie projectors, and is now rapidly moving to servers and connectivity, replacing the need for bulky aircraft hardware with the passengers’ own devices, which, of course, are most likely one of the PEDs discussed above.

This change has four major strengths:
1) Content options. (Applications and media)
2) Modern devices
3) Weight
4) Certification

The last two options are somewhat academic as any device added to an aircraft has this disadvantage. But if IFE was just like a modern device, say running Android, it would support the latest technology and a huge array of applications that are easy to develop and deploy, would it not? And thus, it would stop the movement away from the in-seat IFE hardware vendors, as apps are being developed faster and easier now a days, and you can also develop your own app, for example with a great mobile app development company in Orlando is Ecodelogic. Visit them to find out more about their capabilities.

However, there are real challenges to merge these two very different industries.

Real Cost of “Free” (Open Source)
In my experience the extended (often years) delivery process, the single “airline program” focus and the “drop and forget” strategies of the IFE industry are Ying to the Yang of open source. Open source is like a virtual painting of the Mona Lisa, with an infinite number of artists that is never finished. As each brush stroke is added a person may grab that painting as her own and run with it on the proviso that she lets others obtain her version for free. The real cost comes weeks later when you realize your version is not as good as today’s version, and you need to merge your newly painted eyes with the newest lips, in fact the more you are involved the more you need to stay involved.

Unlike the rigid development cycles of the past there is no finish line and even no real cycle.

How “Open” is Open Source Android?
Android has an amazing blood lineage, it is after all just another in a long line of unified LINUX environments, with the distinction of a committed commercial entirety. And like all open source projects, consensus on direction remains the greatest challenge. In the past this has born many amazing projects that we take for granted today, such as Wikis and Blogs. (Wikipedia, WordPress)

So while all code for an open source project must be published, your intent and direction is of course up to you. This is where Android is probably the greatest challenge to an IFE industry.

Google has a real commercial agenda in this project and it aggressively develops code to match that goal, but this agenda is not public.

If you, for instance, take today’s Android build you have no guarantee that your changes will either be incompatible or superseded by Google’s next release. The code is OPEN but the future is all Google’s.

Product Life Cycle

Of course it is not unique to have issues with the Google ‘Overlord’ approach to Android, however the terrestrial user of Android devices expects to replace them every few years, in-fact the manufacturers on average drop support for hardware in 2-3 years of release.

IFE has a 10-15 year lifecycle; this in terrestrial terms would be like having a device that runs Internet Explorer 4.0 today.

Hundreds of Thousands of Applications?
As any owner of an Android device will tell you, it is not as simple as going to the Google store and installing any application. Unlike unified devices, Android devices don’t run a single “latest” version of Android. Combined with unlimited hardware differences and manufacturers’ own tinkering of the Android code base, most applications require case-by-case integration. When adding to this the lengthy hardware cycles, very specialized requirements and international licensing required for an IFE system, the large portfolio of Android applications realistically is no more than a wish list.

The constant changing Android code base and the unique aspects of IFE challenge the notion of “off the shelf”.

The Challenge and the Payoff
The challenge is that the industry that has born Android is so disparately different to the IFE world in process and approach, but without the change required to successfully adopt an OS like Android, the seat-back IFE will lag so far behind the passenger expectations it will be relegated to history.

*Interestingly enough there is a movement as shown by WAEA becoming APEX to rebrand the industry inflight experience.