We entered the IFEC (In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity) market in the late nineties. Since then it has evolved from VCRs all the way to carry-on devices like iPads, and we’re excited to see where it goes next. Understanding this history can shed light on the current state of the industry. This is particularly important as we look toward future IFEC technologies. With that in mind, here are a few trends we’ve participated in during our time in IFEC.
- In the late nineties, most planes still used VCRs and analog cabling.
- Gradually, optical disc players replaced the VCRs. Like most home players, these connected directly to a display. Content had to be on a disc, and it could only display on one screen.
- Next, the output from optical disc players was networked. The content could travel to many displays via SDI or Ethernet cables. Discs were still necessary, but there were more viewing options.
- The limitations imposed by discs were frustrating. Given weight, space and financial limits, flying with an extensive DVD/Blu-ray collection was not practical. The audio/video on demand (AVOD) server stepped in to address that problem. Content could be pre-loaded onto the server and then delivered to screens throughout the plane.
Biz jet customers have always wanted their IFEC technology to match what they have in their living rooms. So it’s safe to say that the next trends in IFEC will include 4K displays and on-demand streaming content.
With current technology, on-demand streaming isn’t possible. What we’re really looking to see in the next few years is how everyone will bridge the gap until 4K streaming media on planes is a possibility.