How to make IFE seat-centric

July 19, 2017

Seat and interiors specialist Zodiac is increasing its IFEC market share. Richard Williams discovers how from Larry Girard…

Zodiac’s new Zii RAVE system has been key to helping the company achieve ‘measurable market share’ in the IFE market. It is a seat-centric product, with one small box sitting in the back of each screen, carrying 1Tb of data. It can also use the cloud with satellite technology to deliver a gate-to-gate personalised IFE experience to passengers.

Once a passenger has downloaded the airline app, it uses beacon technology in the lounge and on the aircraft to connect through their phone, to address them by name, and tailor the graphical user interface (GUI) to their entertainment preferences. It also alerts the crew of their name, frequent flier status, food and beverage preferences, and any problems with the system. Being seat-centric, faulty screens can be swapped in seconds by cabin crew.

When the passenger chooses a movie, it does not stream, but loads the file from the cloud in the background as the film starts to play. Content load time is just five seconds. Because of the personalisation, the system has the potential to use the passenger’s preferences to push ads to them, which has strong revenue generating possibilities, particularly in the LCC market.

The company’s airline customers include SAS, South African, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. The new Zii system is currently flying with ANA, with no connection to the cloud, and with French Blue, with plans for introducing full connectivity through Inmarsat’s GX for Aviation satellite service. The system uses Zodiac’s classic black screens approved for linefit on the B777X, A350 and A380. Girard says Zodiac never forgets that: “the airline is our customer; it is their brand that we highlight.”

French aero engine manufacturing giant Safran launched a £7.3 billion bid for Zodiac in January, which could create the world’s third-largest aerospace supplier. This was announced shortly after the acquisition of B/E Aerospace by Rockwell Collins, and continues the industry trend towards consolidating technology and services in order to support increasing aircraft production worldwide.

North Coast, a Zodiac partner, is currently developing an analytics portal to manage the advertising side. It will help to monetise the system by proving to the advertiser that their ad was shown, and potentially if a sale was made. The North Coast portal is based on a functioning model used by gamers in the Far East.