At the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Show in Hamburg, one of the must visit booths is KID-Systeme (Hall B6, booth # 6C40) – their SKYfi and SKYpower displays are not to be missed. What piqued our interested was the melding of information, media and entertainment – “mediatainment”.

Mediatainment is a made up word but in the case of KID-Systeme, it has the combined utility of providing airlines with pre-loaded content, flight information, connectivity and telephony solutions (independent and/or combined). SKYfi is an onboard connectivity platform for commercial and corporate aircraft that delivers a plethora of onboard communication options, entertainment applications and passenger and airline services; the SKYfi Lounge.

SKYfi delivers passenger’s connectivity needs – GSM telephony and data, Wi-Fi with streamed content on any device they choose to bring onboard… all driven by an airline branded app.

SKYfi is a modular on board system which can be easily customized to the airline specific operational requirements and requested functionality

The story here is ancillary revenue and service, with the airline customization at the heart of the solution. By making the system modular, the airlines can choose features based on their service offerings, and since almost any type of aircraft can be retrofit, fleet commonality is a non-starter. Today’s traveler wants seamless connectivity to network with their phones, tablets and laptops – all  can be accommodated by the system. Social networks, entertainment, connectivity, and most important information, are all within reach via SKYfi. We firmly believe the BYOD [bring your own device] trend is unstoppable and passengers expect the same access to the internet, telephony and media in flight as they have on the ground. Airlines need to ensure their passengers can receive streaming media, connect wirelessly with social media, watch movies or play games, and SKYfi provides a seamless transition,” said Peter Schetschine, Vice President Customer Affairs.

Now, a bit about the system: It is comprised of the following components: a) one server can cover all services for Wi-Fi connectivity, b) each WAP can serve roughly 50 PEDs, c) connectivity to the ground is provided by Swift Broad Band and (future) Ka-Band technology.

SKYfi can be easily integrated with the airline preferred billing system provider without impacting existing airline infrastructure.

The hardware will be completely supplied by KID-Systeme, using commercial off the shelve equipment which will be upgraded to satisfy the strong aviation requirements.

As we noted earlier, the SKYfi Lounge can provide the following telephony, Wireless Streaming (AVOD), and based on seats/users, airlines just add more WAPS. We asked about a moving map application and KID answered straight away with a solution. This will be available soon but we cannot say more yet.  KID is now offering a full regime of mediatainment services for PEDs. KID will provide comprehensive Digital Right Management which has been approved by the Hollywood studios for streaming of their licensed content.

The app-based entertainment includes movies, music (pax can establish their own play lists), newspapers and magazines, and passenger survey opportunities. The system also allows passenger to listen to music and read a newspaper simultaneously – nice touch. KID is ready for an STC and boxes are certified and flying today. We were also told that both line-fit and retrofit applications are the target market for this product. You might want to check out the SKYfi Brochure.

Full Connectivity System

SKYfi is relying on hardware that has been developed for the KID connectivity system. 500 Shipsets have been delivered so far with an order book exceeding 700. The first system was rolled out in 2007 breaking the wall for GSM telephony on board of commercial airplanes and the system features Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir.

Full Power with SKYpower

Lastly, we should mention one of the other reasons to visit the KID-Systeme booth is the SKYpower system. SKYpower offers the flexibility to work with the latest cabin and consumer technologies and can be accessed via USB and 110 volts AC. The patented, state-of-the-art safety system allows fast and simultaneous recharging of multiple devices. The system’s scalable, modular architecture and functionality mean it is fully adaptable to customer requirements. The system is designed and manufactured by KID-Systeme, which constantly examines and anticipates new market trends and developments to ensure a long and dependable service life for its products.

Be sure to visit the website for more information.

(Editor’s Note: Some of the components of the Airbus ALNA system are comprised of SKYfi sub systems, which we saw last year at APEX.)

The Aircraft Interiors mash-up in Hamburg ended this past week with some very interesting and unpredicted trends in the IFE space. For sure, the move toward smaller, thinner, lighter and more capable electronics was present. Second, third, and fourth generation electronics were claimed in the thin seat/thin and smart IFE world. Without a doubt, this is the trend of the next round of seatback/seat hardware. We really liked the Thales product!

There were a number of R&D projects almost ready for prime time: A wireless seat power development project that claimed 97% efficiency from KID (isn’t that better than wire?); a really great in-seat power supply design concept (Recaro and KID), which removed the seat power box and placed it in a central seat tube; a rapid prototyping capability for seat peripheral products (IFPC); a new, simple, content aggregation software from an Italian supplier; a new satcom/radio software data reduction algorithm that lops 40% of the overhead budget (TriaGnoSys); a new line of inflight hardware from a predominantly portable IFE supplier; a big sale for one fiber-optic IFE provider; two new seat power boxes; a 65” LCD Display; and so much more.

There is a big deal underway in IFE gatelink data that promises to expand ground-based IFE/airplane data that may finally automate that last node on the airline networks – the aircraft. It may do so by the build-up of ground-based networking…not in-flight connectivity. This offering looks like another SITA or ARINC and may incorporate their efforts as well. We will report on this project in the upcoming weeks.

iPad, iPad, iPad is all we heard about. No less that 8 vendors at the Hamburg Show had them in their booth. One even professed that it will be used as an inflight IFE offering. We do not know how it will ever pass DO-160 specifications so that rules out an imbedded application, but hope springs eternal. Additionally, the unit still stumbles with the lack of file handling capabilities and multitasking…not to mention security issues around file encryption. One rumor on the floor placed a major movie distributer in the booth of one vendor claiming they must print a retraction to an earlier news release claiming iPad first run movies? You can believe what you may but you heard it here first.

On the road, we wanted to give a tip-of-the-hat to Seattle Tacoma International Airport for their much appreciated, free Wi-Fi offered to all travelers. In an interview, the airport claimed that it costs them easily over $100,000 each year given the fees and royalties paid by service providers. Airports are not friendly places any more, but the folks at SeaTac deserve mention.

We hear Alaska Airlines will be offering introductory free Go-go Wi-Fi service till July 31, this year.

While air travel to and from the Hamburg show was nothing short of madness, thanks to the Icelandic volcano, we worry about the long-term impact on European air travel and airlines. Having experienced the absolute breakdown of one airline’s ability to manage the emergency we wonder if there are any management solutions to random weather emergencies? One thing for sure, it is going to cost us all more to fly!