Seattle, Washington hosted this year’s IFE and content extravaganza and if you didn’t attend we hope to paint a summary picture for our readers in this edition and the next as well. Furthermore, we will cover many of the bigger stories in detail in the forthcoming months. Watch for show pictures on our website via Flickr. Lastly, we want to thank APEX and their management team for a great expo. Boeing, Panasonic, & Astronics for wonderful evening entertainment, and finally, all the vendors who pay for the show. You rock!

Speaking of trends, here are a few we noticed: Open Platform Apps, Ka Band Buzz, Connectivity – to satellites and the ground, Distributed cabin Wi-Fi to multiple platforms (iOS, Android and Windows), and Seat-Centric style Entertainment.

We wanted to highlight offerings and new developments from suppliers who invited us to drop by and check out their wares. This is the first of the two summary articles in no particular order:

KID-Systeme is back with a new logo and the next iteration of their seat power box installed in the Recaro economy seat bar. The module contains no fans and airline interest has recharged the system as it provided seat 25 watts for each seat and 150 watts of 110 AC power for portable devices. Rumor has it that they are looking at a big order approaching 100 A/C.

Rockwell Collins announced their dPaves 3 IFE system destined for single aisle (and twins too) as an inseat video system. Truly seat oriented, dPaves 3 is an upgrade path from previous editions and features solid state memory.

Lufthansa Systems and Virgin America rolled out their single aisle IFE system that features inseat screens/hardware (for Early Window and networked entertainment and TV) and Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11n) to passenger devices via an app. The device features 128GB SSD for content storage and is expected to grow.

Carlisle showed their newest fiber optic connector dubbed OCTAX for Ethernet and HD video. About the size of your little finger, OCTAX is a quad channel, round F.O. connector that sports a release pin and can deliver 10 gigabits per second, or higher. The Carlisle crew says it will have a home in data loaders, seat-to-seat connections and in IFE backbone deliveries.

Here’s a new name, Kontron, and we expect to hear a lot more from them. They acquired AP Avionics (Remember their modems and WAPS?) and we found out they are the hardware manufacturer for Lufthansa Systems new IFE product, Board Connect. Kontron is a German company with sales worldwide and are the builders of industrial computer and imbedded systems. This is an OEM to watch.

We were knocked out by the new AIRVOD IFE system. Chosen for 2 Omni Air B-777 aircraft, the system is equipped with a beautiful touchscreen and driven driven by a “lossy line” backbone with “seatcentric” architecture. Did we mention the Terrance Bonar had registered “seatcentric” as a trademarked term years back? When we asked about legal protection, Terrance quipped: “Why, other users of the term are advertising for AIRVOD.” Hmmmm! We should also mention that the Avianor seats used to demonstrate the hardware were beautiful and, surprisingly, they were refurbs. There were too many features of this system to mention here but we will follow up later.

Thales showed some beautiful IFE hardware that we will cover in a later article. The displayed a terrific Bucher inseat video arm used in the Thales Integrated Front Row IFE system that can accommodate a video display up to 12.1 in. Dave Pook took IFExpress thru their moving map display program and demonstrated integration with GeoRadio, the audio entertainment software that “tells” viewers about the points of interest below, triggered by GPS data. Of interesting note was Boeing’s cancellation of a live demonstration of the Thales GateSync product. This is a valuable development for aircraft data handling and we are hoping for an eventual update to report to out readers.

The TriaGnoSys team rolled out their connectivity development (in conjunction with Siemens) called IFEConneX. You will hear more about this one box wonder from us but it delivers media content and inflight connectivity to passengers during flights via a ‘leaky line’ technology and looks ideal for non-IFE equipped planes like business jets. By incorporating both connectivity and entertainment in one box.

The IMS RAVE and EDGE products were smart and worked like a UI should. We liked the commonality across their product line and how simple and effective the swipe technology is for IFE. By the way, the Samsung Galaxy tablet product for American Airlines looked great.

As an aside, John White asked us to mention that the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle is construction a new $300 million dollar building at their South Seattle location and have verbally committed to an IFE wing. It seems the museum brass was really impressed with the industry offer of legacy and historic IFE hardware for their museum (The Smithsonian was not!). If you or company wants to donate your historical IFE artifacts please contact John.

Bryan Rusenko is now VP IFE Technology & Strategy, Technicolor and they have an interesting automated content service – more later.
Al McGowen is back in the Goodrich commercial world as Director, Business Development. We wonder if the United Technologies acquisition is a driver?
Patrick Joly of DTI fame is now with Spafax as Director Digital Platforms. When he explained the digital platform convergence that is changing the inflight information content paradigm, we got it. Have him explain it to you – it’s the next thing in IFE communication.
Darrel Chua turned up as President of his game development company Enveesoft. His team in China has some very interesting games in development.
Tracy DeCuir is back in the IFE space (as if he ever left).
Colin Mahoney, New VP Sales, Marketing, and Support, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems was on hand (He is the new Randy Lincoln). IFExpress should also note that the new IFE PR contact is Josh Baynes.
Good News! World renown bon vivant Andre De Greef is back with LiveTV.

Special recognition from IFExpress goes to Inflight Canada for their espresso stand and rest area. Why special? It seems George Smallhorn and the team was forced to remain in Canada for business reasons and could not attend. Rather than simply give up their booth space, they hired a barista, brought in some comfortable furniture and turned their booth into a rest stop for the weary. Nice touch!

WAEA Long Beach, CA, September 14, 2010 – Thales, a leader in In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) and connectivity systems, features its next generation TopSeries system at the 31st World Airline and Entertainment Association Conference. The system is a seat-centric, modular product designed to be the most flexible, reliable, and highest performance Thales IFE offering ever.

Built on the technical excellence of earlier TopSeries platforms, the new system shows brilliant Thales innovation at the passenger seat. Its high definition displays have smooth, sleek lines making the product appearance much like high-style home electronics, and its unique architecture adds intelligence into the display eliminating the seat box for even greater passenger space and comfort. Screens are available in sizes from 11 inch class to 23 inch class with a popular touch screen navigation capability much like today’s smart phones. Monitors are available in a range of colors with three different configurations – monitor only, monitor with passenger interface modules, and monitor with passenger interface modules and a reader for chip-and-pin and smart cards. On the face of the display are buttons for passenger services, home, power and volume control. Displays have high capacity local storage for maximum system reliability, exceptional viewing angles and can accommodate a privacy filter and tilt mechanism. The modular design of the display increases serviceability and reduces cost of ownership. The product is extremely thin and lightweight.

What’s more, the new TopSeries system offers a revolutionary Touch Passenger Media Unit (TouchPMU) that creates a new category of seat controllers. Unique to the industry, the device is a handheld 3.8 inch touch screen LCD display that provides system control and delivers entertainment and communication capabilities much like the in-seat monitor. The unit runs on Android® open source, web-based software that will eventually host thousands of applications similar to consumer devices. “The system is a major step forward representing a highly innovative blend of industrial design, hardware resources and application development. We are confident that the system’s reduced weight, lower cost of ownership and user enhancements will truly be a compelling solution for the industry,” said Alan Pellegrini, Managing Director for the Thales In-Flight Entertainment business.

Traditionally know for its light weight design, the TopSeries system makes a quantum leap with its new architecture targeted to weigh 30% less than earlier configurations. With power savings at the same 30% target, cost savings will be significant. At the head-end are high capacity, reliable solid state digital servers (known as DSU-D4) that provide redundancy and no single point of failure. Servers incorporate aircraft interface functionality which enables Thales to reduce the head-end footprint. For commonality, the DSU-D4 can be used as a Communications server for air-to-ground connectivity services.

Customization will be possible through the use of a Software Development Kit (SDK) and the TouchPMU Android® operating system. Also, the system’s personal interface modules can be integrated into the display or stand alone. The assembly has four equally sized cut-outs
to accommodate up to four interfaces (audio jack, USB, Composite video, Composite Audio,PED interface and barcode reader). With this design, an airline can add, subtract or exchange interfaces in a time and cost effective manner.

The new TopSeries system is planned for a 2013 roll-out on advanced OEM platforms. The system is truly the next generation TopSeries platform that takes advantage of its proven quality today and embraces new design, maximum reliability, ease of maintainability and greater flexibility for tomorrow.