Group editor Colette Doyle rounds up all the latest developments in inflight entertainment, including Panasonic’s new Welcome Aboard Collection, Moment’s digital IFE for the ‘new normal’ and Crystal Cabin award finalists JetBlue, Safran and Spafax
A warm welcome
Panasonic Avionics has introduced the new Welcome Aboard Collection, a selection of solutions designed to aid and augment airlines’ efforts to create a safe and healthy travel experience, while reducing costs and amplifying their commitment to care and safety.
Workforces and passengers alike have all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and recovering from it will be the biggest challenge the travel industry has ever faced.
Panasonic Avionics’ newest range of innovations aims to leverage its proven track record in digital innovation in the aircraft cabin to deliver solutions that can help make travel a safer experience for passengers and cabin crew alike.
Elements of the new collection include smarter, less-touch technology such as the Companion App to incorporate passengers’ trusted personal devices into the IFE experience and the Onboard Reader to digitise print publications. These agile services can help reduce touchpoints on the aircraft while still supporting the full IFE experience.
The collection also incorporates solutions to enhance the passenger experience and deliver care and comfort within the cabin, especially as in-person interactions are kept to a minimum. Panasonic’s Nanoe Air Cleanser improves air quality by generating nano-sized electrostatic atomised water particles that suppress odours and inhibit certain viruses, bacteria and allergens. As airlines modify their onboard service procedures, surveys administered through IFE could provide timely feedback on what matters most to their passengers.
During this time of uncertainty and change, “making flying an experience everyone looks forward to” remains Panasonic’s vision
and the tech company is committed to partnering with its airline customers in pioneering the passenger experience.
Seize the moment
Using the slogan “Digital IFE for the new normal”, entertainment platform developer Moment has elaborated solutions with a post-Covid world in mind. Airlines have to enforce protective and social distancing measures while still providing a quality experience. In this context, contactless and self-service technologies are valuable solutions that be can’t missed, according to the French company.
One such solution involves digitalising an airline’s press offer both inflight and in lounge; by eliminating hard-copy magazines and newspapers, carriers can avoid virus spread. Another option is to broadcast safety messages and make the relevant procedures available on customer devices. This ensures that the airline can give the right message to the right passenger at the right moment. Whether onboard or in lounges, Moment claims that its wireless solutions can help ease the flow of passengers and significantly cut queueing times.
In terms of entertainment, the company’s versatile lounge-streaming platform makes myriad different content and services accessible in just a few clicks. Its portable wireless system, Flymingo Box, meanwhile is an affordable solution to support digital inflight entertainment and shopping channels. It can be installed in just a few hours, without the requirement for a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). The content includes films, newspapers, meditation and music and Moment says it can “help alleviate stress and keep passengers entertained and as happy as they can be”.
Since 2013, Moment has been developing open-innovation projects for the travel industry. Its array of solutions is deployed globally across airlines, railways and cruise companies, leveraging technology to, in its words, “elevate customer and crew experiences”. Its user base is growing exponentially each year, reaching two million people a month so far in 2020.
Crystal awards shine on
The awards ceremony for the 14th Crystal Cabin Awards in Hamburg, originally planned for April this year, has been rescheduled to 13 April 2021 due to the ramifications of the Covid pandemic. The finalists in the IFEC category are JetBlue Airways, Safran Passenger Solutions and Spafax.
JetBlue is big on screen time
Back in 2000, JetBlue disrupted the commercial aviation industry by becoming the first-ever airline with seatback screens at every seat. After nearly 20 years, those very screens – with live TV, a map channel, six movies, and SiriusXM – have become engrained as JetBlue’s foundational pillar for the next generation of IFE&C offerings.
Today, the world we live in revolves around screens, as the airline points out, meaning that to be ‘connected’ means living at the intersection of productivity and entertainment at all times.
The multiple screens consumers own and interact with throughout the day don’t serve a single function – they work, watch, listen, play, and communicate, often simultaneously. JetBlue has termed this the “multi-screen experience” and it’s at the core of the airline’s IFE&C vision.
Raving about Safran
Safran Passenger Solutions’s RAVE Bluetooth Audio has enabled it to join the ranks of next year’s finalists. The company claims it “cracked the code” for Bluetooth audio congestion during flight, enabling the entire aircraft to be connected at the same time. Up until now, commercially available Bluetooth prevented a large number of Bluetooth headphones, in close proximity to each other, from working at the same time without impacting wifi.
The engineers at Safran Passenger Solutions created a way to control power, antenna direction and protocol to allow each passenger, or seat of an aircraft, to connect to Bluetooth audio without impacting the connection for other seats.
In addition, passengers are not limited to the headsets provided by airlines. They can connect using their own devices if they prefer, thereby increasing passenger satisfaction and decreasing costs for the airlines.
Spafax engages with passengers
An industry-first product, SpafaxIQ provides airlines with one view of their passenger engagement data across all reportable IFE&C systems via a set of dashboards featuring category and item performance, media and advertising performance and cost per engagement.
The IFE&C data analytics platform provides airlines with insights on in‑flight content engagement to deliver better customer experiences. This tool gives one view of an airline’s passenger engagement across all IFE systems, supplying cost-per-view data at the most granular level: cabin, route, category, navigation path and language.
The platform, currently launched with Air Canada, delivers four dashboards across movie and TV content and contains over 30 data visualisations that provide in-depth insight into IFE content consumption. According to Spafax, this enables Air Canada to deliver an enhanced customer experience that offers their passengers the best in in-flight entertainment.
Benefits of the SpafaxIQ system include better content targeting, improvements in navigation and payment UX for IFE, GUI and portals; identification of monetisation opportunities; increased value of media and advertising partnerships; identification of cost savings on licence fees and new deal opportunities.
By providing this continuous pipeline of insights, SpafaxIQ aims to revolutionise the way airlines select and purchase entertainment content.