Happy New Year to our readers and thank you for another year of IFE change and growth. We are always excited to write up our predictions, in fact, we have been researching for a couple of weeks now to bring you the latest in prediction news. Based on technology change, we are in for a ride this year, and beyond. Everything from drones to privacy is at risk to become a new item in 2015, and as we move into the world of change, we hope you find our view a bit different… and a bit useful. While next year’s, predictions say to us that air travel in the US will grow some 3.2% (822 million passengers), China travel will grow at least 6%. And in the past, it has doubled every 12 years. It is also predicted that African aviation traffic growth rates will grow at an even greater rate in the coming years. However, our interest is the IFEC world and therefore you might want to take a closer look at the technologies that we see aiding that growth. While even drone footage is now possible for many destinations, we got a bit more interested in the airplane and the technologies that modify and improve the experience, so please read on..

2015 Predictions:

  • At least one vendor will develop and sell an IFE system based on a wired, commercial, seat back tablet with FAA approval.
  • Memisters, the new, fourth fundamental circuit element, will change the aviation data collection industry but will not be aircraft installed till later… it’s too new. Remember the new computer mantra from HP: Electrons compute, Photons communicate, and Ions store! Here’s the bottom line – a 6X increase in workload at an energy reduction of 80% will at sometime in the future increase performance and reduce fuel burn from devices probably using memistors. Also, the key here is “big data” and when airplanes get it, memisters and the cloud will be in the playbook! (Editors Note: Watch Marty Fink, HP’s VP talk about memistors ability to help the “big data” issue that airplanes just may see in the coming airplane data revolution… it’s at 23:48 into the talk, but you really should watch the whole thing)
  • NFC payment technology will become big-time in 2015, and yes, Bitcoin is looming.
  • Aircraft manufacturers and airlines will finally understand the importance of eliminating “Blue Light” which affects the human sleep cycle – yellow light solutions may be involved. While some new planes today have this issue in tow, perhaps, “yellow light” glasses may be in the solution mix because of patents! (Editors Note – check out this link)
  • If the sales of “wearables” is any indicator, airlines will figure an interface with them so users can see the impact of travel on users. “Life-Blogging” is here… eech! Anyway, wearable technologies will play a larger role. Not only will IFEC companies be exploring ways to monitor passenger health in cases of emergencies, but they will be looking at passenger ID and preferences via bluetooth communications between the embedded IFEC and the passenger’s own wearable device. This also says that there will be an uptick in “Personal” marketing.
  • The beginning of the Internet of things (IoT) will be felt by airlines and the trend will be driving aircraft updates and mods. Everything from lighting to thermostats will be eligible for review and control. Of course, while existing systems are no where near today, it is coming in the future. Further as device—to device- to device communication architecture is developed, analytics standards and operating systems tested, and “the cloud” interface developments will keep ARINC busy for years!
  • Watch for “Apple Pay” to come to an airplane this year… or at least announced. This also says, apps will be a bigger deal.
  • We expect an iPad-thin large screen TV (possibly OLED) to be developed for aircraft this year, and yes, it may also be a “smart TV” (with Wi-Fi , or even, LTE connections). And yes, it will be Ultra HD!
  • Unfortunately, hacking will show up on a plane this year, if it has not already! A big source of malware has been portable devices, both Android (Uapush.A & ObadH) and iOS based. Unfortunately some have even been distributed via the Google Store and the Apple store. What’s coming next is SMS hacks (You are correct, with text messages, be very afraid) – SMS spam is a big business! (Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out the live webbinar: “Threat Intelligence at 30,000 ft” on January 14, 2015. “Campaigns like Operation Cleaver (look it up) show critical infrastructure such as airlines and airports are subject to potential state-level hacking. More than ever, hackers and hacktivists have greater access to IT information” – Recorded Future. Also, readers who want to dig deeper might want to look up Inflight “Man-in-the-Middle” Malware attacks and fake HTTPS sites.)
  • Quality personal entertainment is a very big deal and to keep up, airlines will have to offer something different if they want to keep the “eyeballs” on their IFE. Competition with carried-on devices will have to either get a no vote by the FAA and others or airlines will need a new gimmick…like connectivity! Having said that, perhaps “better connectivity” is the answer. (Editors Note: Don’t believe us? Check out the latest Kickstarter Campaign for The Worlds First Wireless Smart Earbuds… who needs inflight entertainment? Now we don’t even need a portable device!)
  • Free Wi-Fi has to make a bigger impact in 2015. Sure, Virgin installed Gogo ATG-4 in a fleet wide effort to provide more inflight bandwidth, others will have to follow. That said, we at IFExpress expect to see major improvements to inflight passenger Wi-Fi streaming via technologies that intelligently allocate bandwidth throughout the passenger cabin.
  • Following from above, new router technology will increase the available connectivity on aircraft – in lab tests, one we know about has shown to increase bandwidth at some seats an astounding 100% – Guess whose product?
  • With Wi-Fi 5G standards in development, the promise of 802.11ad running from 900 MHz to 60 GHz will give the standards people crying fits!
  • While we have no data input, we don’t expect to see wireless charging of devices in the near future. Why? Do we really need more RFI in the plane?
  • Which vendor will show IFE that uses facial recognition or fingerprint access? Hmmmm?

Finally, we asked a number of readers to send us their predictions and here a just a few:

Earle Olson – TE Connectivity: ” Low leg disconnects standardize on high bandwidth solutions in high bandwidth copper and expanded beam fiber via ARINC CSS and FOS industry standards.”

“Backbone architectural changes move closer to a blade server-esque approach from a traditional box into a tray . . . moving the server / processing consumption point in distributed architectures.”

Rich Salter – Lumexis: “2015 will be the year that NFC payment technology comes into its own – think Apple Pay via near field comm wireless – get weaned off that mag stripe card now!”

Name held by request: “I expect new payment methods to be an active battlefield this year but the results not to show for a couple of years.”

Aurielie Branchereau – OnAir : “There have been a lot of words about the fully connected aircraft and, now both the B787 and the A350 are flying, it is time for action. The e-Aircraft will be more efficient, and will improve performance. We will only see the full extent of benefits when the aircraft is fully integrated into the airline’s IT infrastructure. That requires deep understanding of both aircraft communications and airline IT.”

A Retiree: “I predict GoGo Vision will make a lot of money in 2015!” (Look it up)

  • SITA survey shows technology improves the passenger experience

Geneva | September 29, 2014– Passengers have no problem with airline or airport staff using wearable technology, such as smartwatches and glass. This was revealed today in the SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Survey, which reported that nearly 77% of the 6,277 passengers surveyed would be comfortable with the use of wearable tech to help them on their journey.

The definitive annual global survey, which sampled passengers travelling through the world’s top 30 airports, highlights the growing importance of the tech-savvy passenger. Among the passengers interviewed, almost every passenger (97%) carries a smartphone, tablet or laptop when they fly, and one in five travels with all three.

Passengers want to be able to use technology at every point of the journey, and many already do. In total, 76% are using airline apps, and 43% say this has made a definite improvement to their travel. More than half (53%) want personalized alerts about any delays sent directly to their phones, and 57% want airport maps and directions. Half would like to use their smartphone for boarding.

Francesco Violante, Chief Executive Officer, SITA, said: “Travel is better with technology. And tech-savvy passengers expect more personalized apps and services consistently delivered on the web, to their phone or tablet. As new technologies such as wearable tech, NFC and iBeacons[1] become commonplace, they present a great opportunity for airlines and airports to engage directly with their passengers to provide efficient services throughout the journey.”

With almost all passengers surveyed carrying a mobile device or computer, the demand for services in-flight is also changing. An increasing number of passengers (56%) want connectivity so that they can use their smartphone, tablet or laptop for in-flight entertainment. Fifty-four percent want to able to send and receive emails and text messages and make and receive phone calls in-flight. And 45% would use their connected device to purchase food and drinks or browse a virtual duty-free shop.

Where once passengers were unwilling to share personal or location information with service providers, 72% are now willing to do so in order to get more personalized services. There is still a reluctance to share information to receive commercial offers, with less than a third of passengers interested in this. But when it comes to improving their journey, for example to reduce queues at the airport, some 40% said they were willing to share their location information.

The 9th annual SITA-ATW Passenger Survey was conducted across 15 countries worldwide with nearly 6,300 participants. The 15 countries involved in the survey represent 76% of total global passenger traffic.

Passenger IT Trends Survey 2014 – Highlights (Infographic)

Cambridge, UK | June 5, 2014– Mobile phones and associated wearable electronics are now part of what is called the Internet of People. They will often have very flexible displays, some tightly rolled into a conventional phone body. When pulled out, these screens will gather useful amounts of electricity from the sun as the user enjoys the large screen created with its haptic (feel what you do) keyboard. Indeed even flexible batteries have been demonstrated recently. Incorporating screens that unroll will be easier now the public has accepted larger phones because these can more easily accommodate roll-out displays. Samsung has said that it will launch phones with such screens. The screens pull out, click into place then snap in for storage. See the IDTechEx reports, “Internet of People: Technology 2015-2025” and “Internet of Things (IoT): Business Opportunities 2015-2025”.

Achieving this poses formidable hardware challenges calling for printed organic light-emitting diode displays (OLEDs) and other printed electronics including alternatives to indium tin oxide (ITO) transparent electrodes, where printed silver nanowires and fine metal patterning are strong candidates. Flexible barrier layers are also needed. See “Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics: Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2013-2023” and “Barrier Films for Flexible Electronics 2013-2023: Needs, Players, Opportunities”.

To get reasonable battery charging from the sun, new tightly-rollable printed photovoltaics PV is being developed including fully organic photovoltaics with about 10% efficiency. See the IDTechEx reports, “Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players” and “Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC/DSC) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players”.

Those designing “must have” phone hardware will jump at flexible, foldable and tightly rollable technology – a dream ticket for the creative designer. Competitive advantage beckons.

For more information also attend IDTechEx’s event “Wearable Technology LIVE! USA 2014”.

Cambridge, UK | April 28, 2014– Last Christmas and New Year the ideal present, for a girl of a certain age, from Japan to the UK was the neurowear clip-on of floppy ears driven by brain waves to reflect your mood. They would have been played with for one day and then put away forever. Such novelty peaks can be expected with many forms of wearable technology as it enters its manic phase with hugely overpriced acquisitions. Facebook is buying tiny Oculus VR, a Californian company which specialises in virtual reality headware, for around $2 billion. Is it worth that much?

We now have wearable technology for all parts of our body but Nike has recently exited fitness monitoring wristbands after a collapse in sales. That market reached $400 million very rapidly and big names in electronics invested, but it turns out that people are getting bored with them. They may have changed their lifestyle as a consequence of using them but that does not merit ongoing “mind time”. It must be even more true of versions now available for your dog.

If novelty peaks do not ruin your sales of wearable devices then commoditisation may. The lessons of history are clear; from the Chinese electronic wristwatches averaging three dollars each, to their earphones at even less. Hearing aids go the same way. Only niches remain for manufacturers from other countries.

The third bit of bad news for manufacturers is the sheer misery of using a lot of these wearable devices. Eloquently, a speaker at a recent event said that, “Using these new smart wristwatches is like assembling an ocean liner through a keyhole”.

The good news is that the Google Glass and some other devices have hugely improved human interfaces so they are a pleasure to use. Wearable electronics in the form of infotainment may be largely exposed to commoditisation but medical wearables are cleverer, the IP better protected and the short runs are less attractive to the Chinese. A diabetic kept alive by a smart patch will not give you a novelty peak any more than the management of a care home putting safety electronics on disoriented patients in their care or a paraplegic walking because of an exoskeleton. That is why the new IDTechEx report, Wearable Technology 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts, concludes that the merging sectors of healthcare, medical, fitness and wellness have the most potential with industrial, commercial and even fashion applications becoming appreciable as the market powers to over $70 billion in 2024. There will be many false starts but even informatics wearables will not be fully commoditised.

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!