The explosion in passenger use of e-readers, cell phones, tablets and notebooks, and the increasing expectation that these devices be connected in-flight served as the subject for a lively discussion by panellists Philips, Intel, Cisco and Ericsson during last week’s APEX education day.
“Over the next two years it’s going to hit you like a freight train,” warned R.W (Ted) Nugent, the business development manager of aviation and aerospace at Cisco.
Understanding how other industries have tackled the mass take-up of personal electronic devices is important for airlines as they look to support their passengers. Intel, for instance, explained how it supplies “In Vehicle Infotainment” to the automobile world.
“To anticipate some of these needs in the industry you need an open, flexible infrastructure. You need processing power on the airplane that can adapt to the changing needs of the devices,” says Ulmont Smith, VP and general manager of Intel’s worldwide advanced technical sales.
The BYOD concept has already taken flight, yet onboard systems have been largely inadequate in providing PEDs with the connections they need to stream entertainment from sources such as Netflix or Amazon. Entertainment that passengers with the “rights to watch are going to want to watch,” says Leszek Izdebski, director of the media and entertainment group service provider team at Cisco. “Today there is an ‘I want it now’ mentality.”
But challenges still exist. “We know exactly what we want,” says one representative from Scandinavian Airlines. “We have the same visions that you have, but whatever you put on an aircraft has to be approved.”