Bluebox Aviation Systems – Product Updates
10th April, 2018
Aircraft Interiors Expo 2018
Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd. is participating in the 2018 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX18) in Hamburg, discussing the following product developments with visitors to its stand, 2D70 in Hall B2 in the IFEC Zone.
“After such incredible interest in our portfolio at AIX17 – particularly Bluebox Wow – it’s great to be back this year demonstrating that interest is converting around the world,” said Kevin Clark, CEO, Bluebox Aviation Systems. “We’re also excited to be discussing our latest product developments as the rapid evolution of Bluebox IFE continues with advances across the company’s wireless and portable portfolio. Highlights include the development of “connected portable wireless” options for linking Bluebox Wow boxes to aircraft power and/or satellite connectivity services with the support of Fokker Services; approvals from Hollywood studios for app-free DRM, and further enhancements to Bluebox aIFE, the company’s accessible IFE platform for passengers with visual impairments, which is a finalist in this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards.”
Bluebox portfolio evolution driven by collaborative innovation
At AIX18, the Bluebox team will be demonstrating several new developments and enhancements to its product portfolio, many of which reflect the company’s collaborative approach to innovation. These include:
Bluebox Wireless IFE – With the rapid pace of technological change in wireless IFE, it will come as no surprise that Bluebox Wow has evolved well beyond what was on show at AIX17. Two developments in particular highlight the platform’s expanded capability and the value of options for airlines striving to keep up with technological innovation whilst meeting passenger demand:
“Connected Portable Wireless” – Bluebox and Fokker Services have extended their wireless IFE partnership to include the development of Bluebox Wow as a “connected portable wireless” solution, offering an option to connect to aircraft power vs. the current swappable battery, and a solution linking Bluebox Wow to satellite connectivity technology on board. This connected option for Bluebox Wow, will involve the bracing of a Wow box in a cradle developed by engineering partner Fokker Services.
Currently in development with Fokker Services, which will facilitate any required minor-mod certification and fitting of the combined cradle and power/connectivity supply to the Bluebox Wow device, the solution ensures Bluebox Wow offers the best of both worlds – a solution that is flexible and easy to deploy across mixed fleets with portability at its core, but that can also accommodate an airline’s ambition to migrate towards a connectivity, maintaining consistency of IFE delivery across the fleet as each aircraft is fitted out with connectivity.
“Working with Bluebox as their trusted engineering partner for some time now, we know the Bluebox IFE portfolio will evolve and adapt as demand for and the economics of connectivity change,” said Mareijn Willems, Business Development Manager, Fokker Services. “Being ready and able to offer a flexible bridge across that space between captive wireless IFE and full connectivity is what we’re making possible here. Each case will be different, but that’s where we both excel – in delivering a high-quality customised solution to fit each airline’s requirements.”
Bluebox’s Kevin Clark and Mareijn Willems of Fokker Services will be available to discuss the “connected portable wireless” partnership on Wednesday 11 April at 14.00 at the Fokker Services stand (1UA30).
Studio Approval for App-free DRM – Bluebox Wow now provides digital rights management (DRM) protected playback of Late Window Content without need for a downloaded app – and Hollywood approves. Two major studios have confirmed their continued approval of Bluebox Wow for Late Window Content streaming to passengers’ own devices, now using browser-based DRM. This greatly simplifies the passenger experience of accessing DRM content.
Previously, passengers with Android or iOS devices were required to download an app to play DRM content. Concern over this complication for their passengers resulted in some airlines avoiding DRM content in their IFE content offering, or facing the potential of frustrated passengers who did not download the app before take-off and no way of doing so on an aircraft without connectivity.
“What can be done on wireless IFE systems is evolving so rapidly, that as new 3rd party technologies emerge that enhance functionality or remove barriers to an effortless IFE experience for passengers, we aim to integrate these as soon as we can,” said James Macrae, CTO, Bluebox. “It’s our goal to simplify the delivery of IFE for the passenger no matter how complex the software behind the scenes needs to be to deliver the most engaging experience possible with solutions that “just work” for both passengers and the airlines themselves.”
Bluebox Portable IFE – The development of Bluebox’s portable tablet-based IFE solutions hasn’t stood still either.
Just launched with Virgin Atlantic in November 2017, and a Crystal Cabin Award Finalist, Bluebox aIFE – a solution for offering IFE to visually impaired passengers – can now be deployed with a combined build if required, offering both Bluebox Ai and Bluebox aIFE options on the same device. This provides the combined value of having a set of service recovery devices or accessible IFE available, depending on the needs of passengers on any particular flight. Airlines can carry a small number of devices on board and a crew member can set it to one or the other app depending if a seatback screen is broken or a passenger is partially sighted. Bluebox has also expanded the internationalisation of Bluebox aIFE which is now capable of supporting 30 languages in its main user interface.
For Bluebox Ai and Hybrid, a new set of customisable user interface templates provide airlines with read-made design options which minimise the time and cost of up-front app development, enabling faster entry into service.
Bluebox Beyond AIX18
“Bluebox’s strategy is not just increasing the pace of innovation in our products, but also how we innovate – building, co-creating and buying in elements that help us deliver the best solution for our airline customers and their passengers as quickly as possible,” said Clark. “Just as rapidly as new competitors appear, a new technological innovation makes the next advancement possible and everything shifts again. Being stable but also nimble is the paradox of providing IFE today.”
“IFE platforms are rapidly evolving beyond in-flight entertainment alone – they’re becoming a channel for engaging with customers in new and more personalised ways,” added Clark. “Entertainment will never fully go away of course – but when a moving map gets three times the number of hits of other content, digital news is fresh, snacks and onward experiences can be ordered and booked whenever a passenger wishes to (or when an advert on screen reminds them they can), and through-the-window photos can be shared via social media mid-flight, it’s clear that our IFE systems don’t just entertain, they inform, educate, entice and connect passengers – and enhance passenger experience in the process.”