APEX Expo 2018: 13 must-sees in Boston

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Astronics to reveal a range of technologies

Among the power and connectivity solutions being shown by Astronics (Stand 343) will be the newly certified FliteStream SatCom antenna system, plus the Summit Line IFE hardware, for passenger and crew connectivity.

The company will also preview an intelligent bin-sensing solution, which provides bin capacity data and other information to crews for increased operational efficiency.

In the power solutions area, visitors can also try out a range of new EmPower in-cabin products for use by passengers and crew, including a wireless charging module and a USB Type-C passenger power system. While you’re there, you should try out the SmartTray passenger PED holder too.

Astronics is demonstrating new technologies at APEX Expo, including its new Intelligent Bin Solution

Appointments to view these technologies can be made by emailing events@astronics.com.

During the show, visitors who tweet a photo from the Astronics stand with the hashtags #Astronics and #APEXexpo will be entered to win an iPad complete with an Apple Store gift card to enjoy IFE content on the way home.

In-seat power

In-seat power – in particular, USB power – will be a popular theme at APEX Expo. digEcor (Stand 713) will be showing a modular, affordable installation, designed with reduced components to achieve light weight, low cost and minimal installation time. And with a reversible USB outlet, passengers don’t have the frustration of figuring out which way to connect their cables.

digEcor collaborates with a growing number of seat makers to deliver customized seat modification kits that adapt to each seat design and mount to the seat spar, with little to no impact on passenger leg room. digEcor says that its USB power solution is being installed across a fleet of more than 130 narrow-body aircraft later this year.

Making connections

IFPL (Stand 707) will also be showcasing in-seat power, audio and interface products. The company’s new range of products support USB-A and USB-C and can be seamlessly integrated into airline seats.

IFPL’s MagSignal 1327 audio jack & matching plug

Other technologies on show at Stand 707 will include a Bluetooth audio jack and an inductive charging unit that delivers wireless charging at the seat. IFPL will also show supporting design concepts for seatback portable electronic device (PED) holders and trays that provide USB and/or inductive charging.

Award-winning IFE content

Turner Inflight Services (Stand 637) will showcase its latest IFE content at APEX Expo, including 2018 Emmy-nominated Cartoon Network shows Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Teen Titans Go!, and We Bare Bears alongside established hits such as Ben 10 and The Powerpuff Girls. Additional new shows from TBS and TNT are available such as hit new comedy The Last O.G. (starring Tracey Morgan) leading the pack with the global phenomenon and Emmy nominated Adult Swim series Rick & Morty (Seasons 1-3).

Visit Turner to see how an airline can offer passengers the Adventure Time cartoon

Turner also brings the latest in business news, world sport, lifestyle and current affairs content from around the world with CNN International, along with short form content from Great Big Story, the Emmy-nominated cinematic storytelling channel. Meanwhile, COPA90 is the newest addition to the fold, with over a billion views on its online channel. COPA90 provides soccer news, player interviews, documentaries and fan culture shows – all about the beautiful game – and is available exclusively to inflight from Turner.

Bring outside inside

Latécoère, an expert in aerostructures and interconnection systems, designs and builds a full range of airborne video systems. The company’s latest innovation will be shown at Stand 429: a window to the world for every passenger.

Most passengers try to get a window seat when they check-in. Even VIP passengers in first or business class are frustrated if they don’t have an external view during their flight. A developer of HD landscape cameras, Latécoère is introducing side-view cameras, a simple selection via the IFE screen that provides the passenger with a direct view of take-off and landing. Additional options also offer a left and right view of the aircraft throughout the flight.

This smart camera, which is easy to install anywhere on the airframe, enables any passenger to enjoy a window seat experience with HD views of the external panorama.

Clever cabling

W. L. Gore & Associates (Gore) will exhibit its collection of cables and materials for IFEC at Stand 801. Solutions that will be on display at the expo include Gore microwave/RF assemblies that deliver precise radio frequency for Ka, Ku and L Band satellite applications, as well as ‘Leaky Feeder Antennas’, which deliver constant connectivity to a variety of wireless networks.

Also featured will be the ‘Aerospace High Speed Data Cables’ range, which support the latest open-source architectures and standardized protocols such as HDMI, USB, Ethernet, and more. Finally, Gore will be showing cable jacket systems that are proven to meet strict industry requirements for durability and protection in difficult aircraft environments.

Content ideas to look out for

PXCom is taking a step forward in bringing editorial content to the IFEC industry, with the company preparing to release “groundbreaking features”.

The company’s flagship end-to-end solution – XPLore by PXCom – currently enables all kinds of content to be brought on board by airlines and their partners. Initially focused on comprehensive destination sections, then extended to meal menus and corporate sections, it now offers a full digitization capability of content which used to be limited to inflight magazines only.

Creating new digital spaces, PXCom natively integrates editorial content, sponsored materials, and even ‘call to action’ extensions offered to passengers during their entire journey (pre-, in- and post-flight) in a consistent way throughout all available media channels, whether mobile, web or IFEC platforms.

PXCom will also showcase Travelwell (at Stand 750), in partnership with Charlotte Dodson TV). Travelwell is a lifestyle platform for the health-conscious, which provides passengers with pre-, mid-, and post-flight customizable wellness content. The content elevates the passenger experience while generating new ancillary revenue streams.

Virtual reality inflight entertainment

IdeaNova (Stand 704), a provider of IFE, will launch Inplay VR, a multimedia player that brings virtual reality (VR) viewing to inflight entertainment. According to the company, with this system, airline passengers will be able to do everything from watching 2D movies on screens that exceed the physical constraints of the cabin, to being immersed in 360° entertainment during their flight.

The player features multi language audio and subtitles, DRM and non-DRM playback capabilities, and the ability to play streamed off-line, preloaded content. It is configurable, and API driven to interface with inflight systems to inform passengers through PA announcements, flight information, onboard instructions and advertisements.

The Inplay VR player uses platform agnostic technology and works with any VR headset currently available, and is ready for early adoption of new headsets about to come on the market.

IdeaNova will be demonstrating the player using Daytime Emmy award-winning films Invasion! (Tribeca 2016), and Asteroids! (Sundance 2017), from Baobab Studios.

“Virtual Reality viewing is on the upswing in all sectors of visual entertainment. IFE is no exception,” said Juraj Siska, CEO of IdeaNova. “In making VR available on airline-provided or customer-owned devices, airlines can boost their IFE offering by improving their passengers’ onboard experience.”

“The headset industry is maturing rapidly, which is essential for more mainstream adoption of this technology. We’ll see lighter, smaller and high-performing devices that won’t be much different from regular eye glasses,” added Siska.

New generation of BoardConnect Portable

Lufthansa Systems (Stand 753) will introduce a new generation of its BoardConnect Portable system, with a new prototype on show. To create the efficient and robust portable IFE hardware, the company applied its experience of operating a portable IFE solution globally and for large fleets with more than 100 aircraft. This hardware has been designed to reduce the handling efforts of the IFE solution and at the same time enable more use cases for the digital aircraft.

The Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU) corresponds to a real server platform, including all necessary access points, while size and weight (less than 2kg) remain the same. Each MSU provides sufficient high-quality streams to support a typical single-aisle aircraft without any service degradation.

The new BoardConnect Portable casing

The BoardConnect Portable system has a modular structure and can be configured according to airline needs. Airlines can tailor their offerings regarding content, advertisements, retail and entertainment, or simply let Lufthansa Systems’ partners monetize the IFE for them.

On request the system can also be supplemented with low-bandwidth connectivity using Iridium NEXT (BoardConnect Portable/Link). The required antenna can be installed in a smart position of the cabin, with no STC required.

Besides messaging services the solution enables online payment and many other e-commerce use cases. The smart STC-free service is part of the Lconnect product range by Lufthansa Technik and only requires a minor modification.

Power technology

A rapid increase in wireless IFE systems and the growing demand to power PEDs, POS credit card readers and other electronics, has left airlines in need of reliable USB and wall-outlet power.

True Blue Power’s line of FAA- and EASA-certified inverters, converters and USB charging ports (Stand 504) deliver all of the necessary power in small, economical, easy-to-install packages. Typically installed as a minor alteration, the True Blue Power range already provides uninterrupted power to the passengers and crew of more than 50 airlines worldwide.

The TI250 Series DC-to-AC Inverter is ideal for electronic flight bags and the power-hungry electronics found in the cockpit, and one TC280 AC-to-DC converter delivers enough energy to power 18 single-port or nine dual-port USB chargers. The sealed USB units offer water-resistant protection against spills and surface-cleaning solutions.

Aviation broadband

Satellite communication provider, Inmarsat, will be showcasing its next-generation solutions for GX Aviation – which is commercially available with a growing list of airlines, such as Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines – and the much-awaited European Aviation Network (EAN), scheduled to enter commercial passenger service later this year.

Inmarsat’s eye-catching exhibition stand has become a firm favorite of APEX Expo attendees in recent years and will return to the event once again in 2018 at Stand 333/549

In addition, Inmarsat will be shining a light on its SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) platform, which entered service in April as the first global aviation broadband system for operations and safety communications, providing airlines with secure visibility into their operations.

Frederik van Essen, SVP of market and business development at Inmarsat Aviation, stated, “The vast potential of the connected aircraft is becoming more apparent. The latest study conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE), in association with Inmarsat, highlighted the significant operational and commercial efficiencies for airlines, and our recently released Passenger Survey shows demand for connectivity is exceeding supply.”

Personalization platform for IFE

Global content agency Spafax (Stand 921) is introducing new features to Spafax Profile, its entertainment personalization platform. With this platform, airline passengers can learn what entertainment will be available on their upcoming flight, and discover more in-depth information about each program, all via a highly interactive web experience.

New personalization features on the platform include passenger login, content tracking and recommendations. Once logged in, a user can manage their favorites list and receive personalized recommendations.

Kevin Birchmore, director of sales, technical products and solutions at Spafax, stated, “We’re continuously looking to extend our digital product suite in ways that will enhance the passenger experience. The new personalization features for Spafax Profile will allow our clients to bring a new level of service to their in-flight entertainment offer.”

Natural relaxation

Mills Textiles (Stand 117) has developed a ‘sensory comfort’ range of products intended to help promote a sense of relaxation and refreshment during flight. These products can be filled with natural grain such as wheat or cherry stones, and infused with an aromatherapy scent, which is tailored to help sleep or awaking. The products can also be branded or themed, depending on airline requirements.

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About Author

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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