A number of inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) innovations feature in the shortlist for the 2018 Crystal Cabin Awards.
A total of 91 innovative concepts from 18 countries made it onto the shortlist this time round, ranging from individual lightweight components to a long-haul VIP aircraft with on-board cinema.
The decisions of the 28 expert jury members on this year’s pioneering aviation concepts will be announced on 10 April 2018, during the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).
So what are the wireless and IFEC innovations that have been shortlisted this year?
AirFi App-free DRM
AirFi says its App-free DRM technology will revolutionise the applications for its wireless IFE streaming system – AirFi – as its opens up a whole “new range of significant use cases and business models for its clients”. It says this technology allows passengers to be able to access the best content available for wireless streaming – without the need to download an app or plug-in before they fly.
Astronics Wireless Charging Module (WCM)
Astronics Advanced Electronics Systems (AAES) has developed an on-board, aircraft cabin 15 Watt Wireless Charging Module (WCM) that provides passengers with a convenient way to charge their wireless-enabled carry on PEDs such as Smartphones and tablets. The WCM eliminates the need for traditional charging cords and power adapters.
Bluebox aIFE: Accessible IFE (aIFETM) for passengers with visual impairment
Bluebox has introduced an Accessible IFE (aIFE) platform for passengers with partial or full visual impairment. Based on the Bluebox Ai portable IFE platform, and written in Apple’s new development language, Swift, Bluebox aIFE is a fully-customised user interface (UI) that “builds upon the advanced accessibility features of Apple’s iOS platform, with additional IFE-specific capabilities”.
Bombardier Global 7000 IFEC system
Bombardier says the ultra-long-range Global 7000 aircraft’s lightning-fast Ka-band internet service (based on Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX) represents a major leap forward for passengers, enabling them to access email, stream online content or stage a videoconference as reliably they would on the ground.
Global Eagle Content-to-Go
Global Eagle’s Content-to-Go is a low-cost entertainment solution for personal devices. Through a standalone application, or an airline’s existing booking app, passengers gain access to a catalogue of entertainment for their upcoming travel. They can browse, preview and select their favourite movies, TV shows and digital publications from the palm of their hand.
They can download digital magazines and newspapers for reading beyond the cabin; download TV and movie content via a booking code for secure on-board viewing; browse and preview content available on a seatback IFE system and create a favourites list which will pair to the seatback; and stream content anywhere along the travel journey.
Inmarsat European Aviation Network
The European Aviation Network will provide airlines and their passengers flying across Europe with the same quality of broadband as they enjoy at home. This technological breakthrough is made possible by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom.
An Inmarsat satellite in geostationary orbit 35,786 km above Europe will work in conjunction with 300 ground stations operated by Deutsche Telekom. Airlines flying across the EU’s 28 member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, will automatically shift between the satellite and ground network to gain access to inflight internet, streamed entertainment, online shopping, and more.
EAN is currently scheduled to begin commercial service in the first half of 2018.
Lufthansa Technik L-Connect Fast
Lufthansa Technik says Lconnect FAST (Fully Available in the Shortest Time) includes all the integrated services necessary to deliver fast on the latest passengers’ inflight connectivity expectations. With only minor work on the aircraft.
“Lconnect” integrates all systems in such a way that no major work on the structure will be required for later advances in technology.
They have a strong partner in Lufthansa Systems, which delivers parts of the aircraft’s IT infrastructure on the basis of its digital BoardConnect platform.
Rockwell Collins Cabin Connect
Rockwell Collins says its broadband connectivity, powered by Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network, provides the first seamless satellite communications service with greater performance consistency than any aviation global satellite service available today.
Its global GX Ka-band cabin broadband connectivity service is available today for all aircraft types, whether retrofitted or for OEM line-fit offerability. There are three fuselage-mounting antenna options and even a tail-mount antenna that fits many regional jet airframes.
Thales InFlyt 360
Thales says InFlyt 360 breaks traditional IFE boundaries by incorporating the latest innovations and big data tools to offer a “phenomenally powerful and personal experience”.
Thales says airlines will now have at their fingertips the capability to truly understand their customers. It adds: “With InFlyt 360, airlines can continuously harness information, solve data complexities, and achieve a genuine one-to-one connection with the passenger leading to higher customer satisfaction rates, higher ancillary revenue generation and even lower total cost of operations.”
University of Edinburgh Gigabit Wireless Networking in Aircraft Cabins via Light-Fidelity (LiFi)
LiFi is high-speed, bi-directional wireless data communication using light. Many LiFi-enabled lights form wireless networks, offering similar user experience to Wi-Fi. It uses the vast infrared and visible light spectrum, which is 2,600 times the size of the entire radio frequency spectrum.
Two students from the LiFi Research and Development Centre at the University of Edinburgh, Tezcan Cogalan and Cheng Chen in partnership with pureLiFi Ltd propose novel LiFi systems in aircraft cabins in collaboration with Airbus who have integrated the technology into a cabin demonstrator. It says: “LiFi will reduce weight, enable reliable wireless links of tens of megabit per user, provide worldwide inter-operability, avoid EMI and provide secure connectivity.”
VT Miltope Cyber-secured cabin wireless networks
Airlines are increasingly implementing wireless networks and the EU is implementing cyber security legislation by May 2018 that can result in large fines.
However, airlines in particular seem often unaware of the potential risks for their operation, reputation and bottom line.
VT Miltope is exclusively partnering with Razor Secure to offer a novel and -first in industry- solution that embeds a cyber security solution, compliant with the latest EU legislation, into our network of cabin access points.