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!

Seattle, WA | February 11, 2013– ASI Entertainment, Inc. (OTCQB:ASIQ) announced today that it has received royalties from its intellectual property licensed to ASiQ Limited. The product is marketed by ASiQ under the brand name BizjetMobile, and following 2 years of flight testing, was released in November 2012 and is currently in operation on aircraft in Australia and the USA.

The Company initially receives royalties from system sales and then from ongoing data communication revenues as each aircraft commences operation. In addition, the Company has entered into a heads of agreement with its former subsidiary that will increase the Company’s revenue potential even further.

Under the new agreement, not only will the Company receive its 10% intellectual property royalty but, will also manage the billing and associated communication services on behalf of ASiQ for the North American Bizjet market and receive a further 5% of all net revenue after agents fees and financing costs.

President of the Company, Ron Chapman, stated: ASiQ under license from the Company, has developed a revolutionary inflight communications system for business aircraft, integrating iPhones and iPads to the global Iridium and Inmarsat satellite networks.

The heads of agreement is for a period of 45 days, during which time a formal 12 months agreement will be entered into which will include the option for the Company to acquire the permanent rights.

Back in June, we brought you some early results and information on Ron Chapman’s Bluetooth initiative to use lower power Bluetooth capability for inflight connectivity. Today, they are closer to the messaging solution and we thought our readers might like to see where Ron’s Bizjet/commercial aircraft system is heading. If you remember, the ASIQ System (now called BizjetMobile) basically sits between aircraft Satellite units (SDU) and passengers who use their Smartphones to communicate email, SMS, or voice on the plane. 

The system utilizes a laptop/tablet server (UMPC) and “talks” to the SDU in one of two ways. Ron noted the hardware setup to IFExpress:  “One way, via USB or Ethernet to the Iridium/Thuraya/Inmarsat Data port; or Two, via USB to our custom built voice modem which controls the SATCOM Voice Channel. This is the small box we call the voice interface.” (Editors Note: To expand the thought a bit further, the system for a Bizjet has 2 connections from the UMPC to the SDU. One for data, using either USB or Ethernet depending on which SATCOM units are installed and one for voice using either POTS or the analog speaker/mic input. Airline units will only have one data connection). All SATCOMS have this interface. In most cases we just take over one handset port.  Please note, we do not use VOIP, it is PCM at work here.” 

As we noted before, their Bluetooth-based system will begin operation on Bizjets, however here’s what Ron said about coming commercial aircraft applications, “The airline version will be data only SMS, Text email, plus a Twitter and Facebook messaging interface, that should raise some eyebrows in the industry! Moreover, what it will do, is for the first time ever, drop the price of messaging in an aircraft and it will be the same as if you were on your mobile phone at home.” We note, there is another surprise but we can’t talk about it yet – you might want to read the forthcoming third part of the trilogy! Here are a few FAQ’s that ASIQ sent in response to airlines and bizjet operators who have been deluging them with questions.

Lastly, we encourage our readers to watch this development because it just may bring low cost, satcom-based connectivity to planes equipped with slower data-rate satellite hardware, especially in places over water. Moreover, at lower price points, mobile data users are more likely to use SMS, Twitter, and Facebook for their connectivity. Wait till Part 3 – Stay Tuned!

“Way”…but first, a little background.

If you remember a story we did on SafeCell you will note that the plan by the Aussies called for little Bluetooth networks connecting to app-downloaded Smartphones that are so popular to travelers. The latest twist is a picocell wireless router developed by ASI which should make the installation of the interior network much easier. If you remember, early Bluetooth was tested by Intel in the ninties and because of signal levels and operation frequencies, the results showed that Bluetooth frequencies were way under the noise floors for FAA/FCC requirements. We asked prez Ron Chapman about the new product and he sent us the following in a email:

“The fascinating thing about Bluetooth is that its been round for such a long time in every day use as a mobile phone head set, but due to its initial lack of range and speed it was never really considered a viable data link.

Even today the software Apps mobile phones vendors provide, to connect your mobile to your PC are all different and cumbersome. We could see that range and speed would take care of itself with the Bluetooth V 2, but the single biggest challenge would be, building a simple single interface to all mobiles and that’s what we have achieved.

Now we can shift data from any mobile to any other mobile using the one App, while at the same time our broadcast mode allows users to receive multimedia info without going through the full pairing process. This is a real benefit to airlines as every passenger with a mobile can receive information, even before they have downloaded the App.

The other thing that is appealing about Bluetooth is, it’s the only wireless aircraft system recommend under the Intel report that could be left on during critical stages of flight. So aircraft interference is not really an issue at all.

In regard to our roll out plans, what I can tell you is before SafeCell Airline hits the skies, it will be launched on the ground. We have a ground version of SafeCell that we have been testing on 2 social networks that combined have 800+ Million subscribers. With these interfaces in place, once they are in-flight they would automatically have an account, so billing would not be an issue.

We plan to launch the ground version next month which gives us the opportunity to bullet proof the software before it hits the airlines.” For more information take a look at theSafecell Data Sheet, read the latest SafeCell Press Release or you can contact Ron Chapman at ron.chapman@asiq.com.

Melbourne Australia March 5, 2010 — ASiQ limited announced today the release of the world’s first aircraft Bluetooth Access Point.

Ron Chapman ASiQ’s CEO stated “up until now passengers have only had very expensive options for in flight mobile phone communications however, with the evolution of our SafeCell App, combined with our new Bluetooth Access Point, airlines will now be able to offer their passengers affordable SMS, MMS, voice messaging and text email on the popular device of choice, the mobile phone. Better still SafeCell eliminates GSM roaming charges, as it does not require a GSM Picocell connection to deliver its services.”

Bluetooth access points are more efficient, as they operate as a Personal Area Network (PAN) and unlike Wi-Fi do not have the expensive and cumbersome process of connecting to the internet, in order to establish a link. The SafeCell App is unique in that file sizes are so small, even a narrow band satellite link can accommodate the basic texting needs of every passenger. Plus, Bluetooth can transmit at up to 3 megabits per second, which means it can accommodate any data or media requirement.

With ASiQ’s proprietary PAN design, two access points can cover a narrow body aircraft such as a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320. Up to 192 mobiles can be logged on to an Access Point, which more than covers every passenger onboard the aircraft.

Ron believes Bluetooth has an enormous future, which is justified by the latest ABI research.

First News Briefs for December 8, 2009 extract states “ABI Research reports that nearly 2 billion Bluetooth chipsets are forecast to ship in 2014 alone. More than half will be found in wireless handsets. In 2014, Bluetooth will be found in 70 percent of all handsets and 83 percent of all netbooks.” Compare this to the fact that less than 10% of mobiles have Wi-Fi and it’s clear to see why Bluetooth is the best solution.

When you consider that SafeCell systems will costs as little as $10k per aircraft, compared to GSM based systems costing around $500k per aircraft and a Wi-Fi system costing around $100K per aircraft for a US domestic airline and up to $350k for an intentional airline, there is no comparison.

Several airlines have been following the progress of SafeCell which was patented in January this year and Ron expects to announce the first installation of the new access point in the second quarter of 2010.

Melbourne Australia 19th February 2010
Ron Chapman CEO of ASiQ Limited announced today that SafeCell will change the rules for in-flight messaging.

Ron stated “When we created SafeCell, the initial App was designed as a low cost Mobile phone platform for corporate jets. Refer ifexpress article

We have now tested our App on every available aircraft satellite network and recently received the latest Inmarsat swift broadband aircraft system.

We activated the SafeCell App on multiple mobile phones and were simultaneously sending SMS, MMS and Voice messages in both directions. As such, we are now confident we could accommodate the messaging requirements of 400+ passengers on a jumbo.

Not only that, unlike existing systems, SafeCell does not incur GSM roaming charges and we see no reason messaging in an aircraft should be more expensive than on the ground and its time someone did something about it.

As such, for the first time in aviation communications history, the price of SafeCell in-flight messaging can actually be cheaper than on the ground. We are talking of providing an SMS service that could be as low as 5 cents per message and MMS for under 25 cents, plus Instant Messaging for free.

We know from our competitor’s flight test on QANTAS and Air France that hundreds of messages are being sent on flights, despite their high roaming charges. We believe that SafeCell’s lower cost will make it affordable for all passengers, not just the business traveller.

The SafeCell App achieves this, as it makes the Bluetooth connection on the mobile the primary link and connects to a Bluetooth hotspot in the aircraft. SafeCell delivers its service via low cost satellites through the Internet, avoiding the GSM roaming charges.

The App makes a Bluetooth dumb phone smart and a smartphone even smarter and as Bluetooth is up to 3 Mbps, speed is not an issue.

We now see SafeCell as a real option for all airlines.”

Later this month ASiQ will release the worlds first certifiable Bluetooth Hotspot

Have you ever wondered what all the MPEG4 settings mean? With names like Video Input (Interlaced/Progressive), Field Order (TFF-BFF), Pixel accuracy, Slice, and about 20 others, what’s a technologist to do? Well, the next WAEA Tech Committee meeting is for you. Michael Childers and Mark Thompson are said to be preparing a session on MPEG4 settings to educate WAEA members up to a “level playing field” such that the TC can ultimately make an informed decision on whether it’s worth it to standardize on any settings for IFE. Accordingly, if you have ever mused over the use of Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) for IFE (The use of multiple wavelengths of light to multiply the channels available over a single fiber optic cable) this meeting is also for you.  Without a doubt, the industry has been moving rapidly to get things standardized in preparation for the use of fiber in IFE and avionics in general. Further, Dan Martinec will be leading a session to describe the requirements document that has been prepared while others will present their technology and products for use in airborne fiber systems. He plans to bring folks up-to-speed on the WDM LAN work that AEEC is doing which should be interesting too. Additionally, if you are interested in the latest happenings in the world of onboard connectivity, David Coiley has a panel of presenters prepared to give a view of what’s currently flying and trialed. They will address some of the long misunderstood issues about satellite and air-to-ground systems (like latency, etc.). This is a session designed to help airlines and suppliers alike understand the state-of-the-art in airborne connectivity. Throw in a few other sessions like Best Practices for IFE and Closed Captioning, and this meeting is shaping up to be one not to be missed. Plus, insiders tell us that pre-registration is at an all-time high (read networking opportunity!).   Take a look at the upcoming WAEA TC agenda (February 24-25) at www.waea.org – and if you can’t get out of the office for two days you can register to attend via real-time webcast – you can’t beat that!  

Next, we have secured a special website for our readers with incredible space graphics from the AGI folks. It links to the best graphic depiction of the satcom Iridium-Cosmos collision over Russia – bar none. www.agi.com/iridium-cosmos. For more information contact sclaypoole@agi.com . 

Did you watch the Sir Richard Branson video on AirCell? We asked Brenda Chroniak (AirCell PR) about the system capability to send video and she noted; “For a bit more detail, what I meant by the system being designed to scale is that Aircell has a proprietary compression technology that substantially enhances the throughput on the network. Handling 30, 40 or 50 passenger sessions on a flight – or a live TV broadcast – are well within its capabilities. Though compression techniques are fairly widespread in the Wi-Fi world, Aircell’s was built-in as a fundamental part of the network. AirCell knew the demand that was coming when they developed the system, and it’s certainly paying off, as demand has been higher than expected.” Here are the links:

Now, with regard to the recent wildfires in the Melbourne, Australia, we asked long IFE’er Ron Chapman (ASIQ) to chime in on their status and he wrote: “Dear IFExpress Readers: We are OK, The fires were coming in our direction and about 8K away when the wind changed and sent it north up to the mountains. Major disaster up there! The wind change happened so fast no one in the path had a chance. It was 48.5 degrees at my place and blowing a gale. Week before we had three days at 44+ degrees. Everyone knows friends that lost homes and unfortunately some did not survive. We are still waiting to hear – they say it might be high as 300 and the fires are still going. We are used to bush fires but this was a firestorm that no one could imagine. What is uplifting is the way the community is pulling together. That’s life in the bush, Ron”  

Lastly, we are working on a big airframe expose story that will blow your mind….Stay Tuned!

Image courtesy of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (www.agi.com