That right, it’s called THER and we wanted to give our readers a quick first look at some of the highlights. As you may know, Rogerson is really Michael Rogerson of InTheAirNet, Rogerson Kratos, and Equipment Group and many may know of their beginning in the helicopter instrument business. We have followed Michael for years in the IFE business (InTheAirNet) and in the words of their website “InTheAirNet (ITAN) is a global supplier of IFE cabin distribution systems developed thru innovation for airline, business/VIP aircraft with advanced electronics, unique software applications and leading system solutions.” Our story this issue is about a newer product (THER) and we caught up with Michael’s son Mark, Director Business Development who was busily preparing for the Singapore Airshow Singapore Airshow 2014 – Asia’s Biggest For Aviation’s Finest, Feb. 11- 16 Changi Exhibition Centre Singapore. We understand the new THER will be featured there so if you are going, drop by their booth for a preview. This might be a good time to introduce what the acronyms stands for – Transporting Home Entertainment Reliably and in the words of their promotional material, this is the new line of “Personalized Technology” that they have been working on for the last few years. THER offers four distinct passenger entertainment/connectivity preferences: Broadband connectivity, On-board media storage (Audio/Video), “the most popular satellite image map”, and Device Charging. Here is a link to the Android-based product. Like us, you probably are interested in some of the features of the product, and the linked brochure should outline some of the system features.

Next, we chased down Mark and sent a list of questions to the busy ITAN marketeers and we have included the answers we got back here… and some were a bit surprising.

1. Q: Mark, many of our readers have not met you, what is your position at Rogerson?

A.: Mark J. Rogerson, Director, Business Development

2. Q: Is the THER product a new direction for ITAN/Rogerson?

A: Rogerson is continuing to develop new display products for the cockpit and cabin utilizing advanced displays, processors, and innovative software. InTheAirNet’s THER is focused on weight reduction (We are already the lowest), increased wireless efficiency in terms of redundant coverage, and new passenger control units.

3. Q:  What system diagrams show the THER equipment list of hardware for an aircraft installation.

A: “Please see attached brochures”.

4. Q: Who are customers today for THER?

A: “Our customers include Boeing, European Airlines, and modification centers for “big iron” private jets.”

5. Q: Where can interested airlines find a demo of the THER system?

A. “We demo at major trade shows, our own demo room, and our portable demonstration system.” (Editor’s Note: We assume that THER will be shown at the Singapore Airshow).

6. Q: Will THER and ITAN be at Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Show in April?

A: “We are not exhibitors at Hamburg, but we will walk the floor. Our next exhibition show is Singapore and we will be doing regional shows in South America.”

7. Q: Could you outline some future applications that you might envision for the product?

A: “Our next application focus is a lower cost, lower bandwidth airline data connection.”

8. Q: Could you give our readers any information about price?

A: “Our pricing goal is to be competitive with a drop-down system but with a connection at every seat.”

9. Could you give our IFEXpress readers some idea of passenger coverage per WAP?

A: “WAPs are designed for 85 passengers. Redundancy is important, so that a loss of a single WAP does not delete a service area.”

10. Q: Passenger power conditioning in the server is something we have not seen before – could you address the subject?

A: “Power is designed to meet Boeing Harmonics requirements. It is a very power frugal system.”

11. Q: Any idea about system weight, especially when compared to other systems?

A: “System weight varies with number of passengers. In our experience, we have always been the lowest weight provider.”

12. Q: What is THER availability today?

A: ”The THER System is deliverable on 6 months lead-time. We currently accepted a 5-month delivery for a 737 trial with custom software. Challenging, but doable.”

13.  Q: Mark, could you describe the market as you see it?

A: “The market still wants PED’s enabled with data and content, while being charged. That’s our sweet spot.”

Next, if you want to dig deeper, Rogerson has included PDF files of the data sheets for the individual LRU’s (WAP, PIP, ANM, ACM, APE, BOB, AIM). And, be sure to introduce yourself to Mark, he is an easy-going, eloquent spokesman for the Rogerson folks and you should see a lot of him in the future!

Contact Information:
Mark J Rogerson – Business Development InTheAirNet LLC.2201 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606 ph.  949-442-2382 fax  949-442-2312

For the past 6 weeks we have been predicting the advent of  “wearable” technology in “Predictions” and “Musings” and lo and behold, this week Virgin Atlantic announced their use of Google Glass for interactions with passengers. Count on Virgin to be first, and IFExpress, for that matter!

The New abSeries Wired System, Part Of OUr “Personalied Technology” Line Of Products, Will Enhance The In-Flight Experience For Business And VIP Travelers.

Las Vegas, NV | October 9, 2011 — InTheAirNetVIP today introduced the abSeries platform for business aircraft, a new wired and/or in-flight entertainment and seat power connection for business aircraft with 9 to 60 passengers.
The system consists of a seven-inch master control, usually located in the galley or crew area; a Distribution/Power Module in the cabin which supports 9 passengers (additional passengers or zones may be added as required); an Aircraft Interface Module for adding a Passenger Map; and an optional Aircraft Control Module for electronic control of aircraft lights, temperature, and shades. Compellingly, the features can be operated with an app on the passenger’s smart device.

This system offers a two-way advantage: business aircraft passengers can play their PED content on large, high-resolution cabin displays, enjoy previously stored on-board content and the industry’s best moving passenger map, or connect to the Internet, while also enjoying email.
InTheAirNetVIP calls this “Personalized Technology,” and it will enhance every flight connection for the passenger. Based on our patent-applied-for Android architecture, while also enabling access to a wide range of other devices’ operating systems, such as Apple or iOS, the abSeries enables the business passenger to use their PED for all of the uses for which it was designed. Add it to a broadband link in the aircraft and you possess full connectivity for email and Internet.

“Today’s aviation entertainment and connectivity preferences gravitate toward the passenger controlling their own content,” said InTheAirNetVIP chairman Michael Rogerson. “This means the ability to play their own portable device’s content, whether memstick, SmartPhone, or other Personal Entertainment Device, on a larger screen or play aircraft on-board content onto their devices. Of course, while all this is happening, the passenger gets their device recharged.”

The abSeries is the lightest low-cost solution for passengers of business aircraft that want the advantages of using their PEDs and desire to use Android Apps.

Panasonic: The Panasonic team showed up and caught our eye in three areas – Wireless, eX3 product line, and the ‘Cool Room’. Enhancements to the basic line of eX3 IFE products include a new seat electronics box we called “the turtle” because it looks like one. Incredibly, the carbon fiber or metallic impregnated plastic box fits in the palm of you hand and between the struts of an aircraft seats – it uses up zero leg room and foot space! We saw a pre-production model and this box will change SEB’s forever. We got a look at their eX Lite Server and there is a real technology story here. While we don’t have space to talk about it in this installment, the box uses 128 GB of SDXC memory! There also was an 802.11N wireless system entry that looked to be the next logical growth for the “eX” Series, and of course, the ‘Cool Room’. While there seemed to be a waning of interest to include the room in future conventions from Panasonic executives, IFExpress still finds this the heart of new development product potential at any IFEC show. Yep, we love it. the 3D flat screen display with touch controls blew us away. There is not enough space to laud Steve Sizelove and his team’s efforts to go where no other vendor has gone before. BTW, weren’t those iPads on a trolly. Hmm?

ITAN: Leave it up to Michael Rogerson to provide a real upgrade to his IFEC offerings. We were knocked out by the new technology in his latest building block modular IFEC system. Called the “A-Series ARM” and based on the Android operating system, Michael and his team have jumped into the latest vendor offerings as an equal. Using 5 (or so) modules, customers use them and ITAN’s app offerings to build a system that covers audio, video, data, Wi-Fi, and whatever else is needed for entertainment. Michael claims that now, users can plug into the ARM seat unit and get data, power and media – all with no server. While an admitted bizjet natural, the ITAN hardware is definitely suited for single aisle operation in the commercial space. Watch this one.

LiveTV: We will say it again: “Mike Moeller is one of the best Sales and Marketing dudes in the IFE industry.” The LiveTV cost per bit analysis is a story we will cover in an upcoming Hot Topic but suffice it to say, Moeller coined the phrase “Not all Ka Band Service is the same” and his analysis is one that needs to be understood by the IFE world. As Moeller put it, “Data costs are exceeding the price charged per passenger.” His message: delivering data to airline customers depends on the system, the data rate, the antenna capability and the aircraft location. His approach grows and adapts the jetBlue system and keeps costs in line. Without a doubt, clever xponder buying is also a must, but we will save that for later.

Lumexis: One lesson we learned from Lumexis – there are some 21 different platforms for PED’s and that really drives the need for a monitor at each seat. They plan on true 1080p HD for their next generation of systems. They claim that they can deliver true HD to all customers on any size plane at the same time. With fiber optics, bandwidth never seems to be an issue. We were told that Lumexis is concentrating on their first customers; however, there is another in the wings and we anticipate an announcement AIX 2012.

VT Miltope: As the OEM to many Wi-Fi and network-based systems, the military and commercial box and system manufacturer rolled out their new, small (in size only) 10/100/1000 Based Server Unit (NSUI). The 2 MCU box has a minimum 160 GB SSD, 1.8 GHz Athalon dual core processor. All this and a new president too!

OK, you say, what does all this new IFE stuff add up to? The trends we spotted seem to echo the past but because of newer technology, there are new directions and evolutions noted below.

The “seat focused” IFE concept is in full throttle. At least 5 vendors used the term “seat-centric” in their presentations and as many more exhibited that concept in their product design. In a sentence, putting the electronics and content at the seat improves the reliability and passenger experience. Accordingly, the centralized control of content and programming is on the decline. Boeing and Airbus, we understand, are not fans of this approach as they loose some control of the IFE platform and is less flexible in their eyes. As a result, it may be a while before line-fit approval is secured.

We hear there is no end to the need for connectivity with the Smartphone as one of the favorite and upcoming targets for content and data – but you knew that. Wi-Fi is the medium of choice and the folks at Gogo have proven that connectivity or no-connectivity is just a matter of cost/price. They are also proving that streaming wireless is here today and more of this trend is in the works with almost all system suppliers. Additionally, while not cheap, Wi-Fi reduces weight and wires. Watch the Virgin America/Lufthansa deal as a precursor of things to come.

Understandably, Early Window content is pretty much ruled out for PED’s in the above mentioned Wi-Fi systems but with Early Window content being squeezed down to 30 days or less, what is the big deal? And by the way, when will Google or Microsoft front, or reduce, Wi-Fi user costs?

SSDs are here with most opting for 128 MB. But by next year, 256 MB will be the norm and the year after, one terabyte will be common. Don’t know what an SSD is? Try Wikipedia.

While not a trend yet, card swiping (PIN and chip) is on it’s way. Just as the Smartphone resonated with travelers, easy payments are a demand driver. While prevalent in Europe, the use in the US and elsewhere will come slowly. Watch the innovators like IFPL, AIRVOD, ITAN, and PlaneBill.

There are a lot of small vendors with incredibly good product and product ideas. This can only mean that next year as budgets tighten, there is a good chance for industry consolidation. We smell mergers and acquisitions (M&A)!

In the content world, there seems to be a shift away from the tennis shoe network toward more automated and wireless content update. Mind you, it is not here yet but lots of folks are working the problem vigorously.

Finally, Ka Band connectivity was on everybody’s lips. As LiveTV put it – “Not all Ka is the same!”

Based on the above, the APEX TC in November (8 & 9) looks to be a ‘Do Not Miss’ event. Here are the topics – Airline & Studio Perspectives on Future Technologies,  Connectivity, Wireless IFE, HD Standardization,HD/File-Based Workflow, Interoperable Master Format, Cabin Trends, Chip & PIN for PCI Compliance, ARNIC 791 Satcom Update, Ka-band Radome Status.