In a game-changing approach, Android OS-based tablets are the basis for the newest EDGE™ portables with a 10.1-inch touch screen, and solid-state storage

Brea, CA | 7 September 2011 — The IMS Company remains committed to the handheld IFE space, and will come to APEX in Seattle with a unique version of its EDGE™ product, based on an Android operating system (OS) and a tablet form factor, according to The IMS Company’s vice president sales and marketing Harry Gray.

“This is a completely new approach to portables deployment in IFE,” said Gray, “which we believe is a game-changer.”
The newest EDGE™ portable media player offers a 10.1-inch capacitive, multi-touch touch screen, with 1280×800 (WXGA) screen resolution, using the Android OS (Honeycomb). The lithium ion battery supports approximately 9 hours of video or 72 hours of music. Content is stored on SD (Smart Digital) cards allowing the airline to determine the size of storage needed to meet its content requirements. The use of SD cards for content storage is ideal for IFE and virtually eliminates content loading time and expensive terrestrial loading equipment.

EDGE™ is APEX 0403-compliant and supports content playback in MPEG4, H.264, WMV7 and WMV9 with AAC audio playback. The user interface is also compatible with RAVE™ embedded IFE, so the airline can now have a similar standard that is applied to both products, making the passenger experience virtually seamless.

IMS’ Android-based solution is not limited to a single device but is designed for use with a range of Android OS devices. So, as other Android-based devices become available, the IMS solution can be easily ported from this device to the next. The IMS Company entered the portables market by repurposing consumer-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, including Fujitsu and ARCHOS devices, and quickly took leadership in the IFE portables space as a result.

The operating system approach restores the benefits of leveraging COTS technology, says Gray. Since the Android OS is an open standard, we can more easily adapt this technology to support IFE requirements (including Early Window content) as compared to other COTS products using a proprietary operating system.

EDGE™ gives The IMS Company an opportunity to apply more than 15 years’ experience providing IFE expertise to the airline market. We now have a family of products – both handheld and a fully certified AVOD system, that offers airlines the ability to provide an enhanced and consistent passenger experience and branding strategy using different products across their fleet.

We led last week’s AIX Preview with The IMS Company because we believe that seat-centric IFE will be one of—if not the hottest—stories here in Hamburg. And it is shaping up that way. Solidifying this belief was IMS receiving the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX this year. A spokesman for The IMS Company said, “The Crystal Cabin Awards are a good reflection of the cutting edge trends in IFEC technology. We were pleased that our integrated portables concept was among the Crystal Cabin finalists a few years ago, and see this recognition of seat-centric IFE has another step in the evolution of the same process—finding new ways to build reliable and efficient IFE into the seat.”

Furthermore, The IMS Company advised us that Lufthansa German Airlines, Brussels Airlines and SriLankan Airlines have joined the list of airlines opting for IMS’ seat-centric RAVE™ system. Now we already knew about SriLankan, despite the lack of formal announcement, but with Lufthansa—Germany’s largest airline—joining airberlin—Germany’s second largest airline by passengers which announced— and Brussels Airlines, that’s some momentum! And it is not lost on us that in June 2009, Lufthansa announced its interest in the management structure and capital of the Belgian airline. Is that just coincidence?

That’s now four airlines announced for RAVE™ and we hear that the fifth—and perhaps even the sixth—could be announced by the end of the Expo on Thursday. And even if Harry Gray just keeps those other two orders in his pocket, that’s a really good start.

Among the interesting things that we see in IMS’ product line is the RAVE’s Seat Display Units (SDUs) have an atomic relationship with IMS’ new EDGE portable media players also being showcased here. The SDUs and EDGE not only share R&D, but also component parts, technologies, and even repair and maintenance operations. What’s more, EDGE can be modified for integration into the seat as a “semi-embedded” PMP. That’s a hat trick!