The future of inflight entertainment: high def, multi-touch Android and apps

By danwarne, April 7 2011
The future of inflight entertainment: high def, multi-touch Android and apps

In a few years' time, your plane seat will know who's sitting in it and adjust its inflight entertainment accordingly -- at least, that is Panasonic's vision.

Showcasing its new EX3 inflight entertainment system in a YouTube promotional video, Panasonic says its ultimate vision was for the seat-back screen to provide a custom food ordering menu based on what you've ordered on previous flights, tailored inflight entertainment based around your interests, and an internet connection to the ground.

However, while some of that remains in the future for now, the EX3 system offers a leap in the technologies to airlines today, such as capacitive touchscreens -- the same type used on the iPhone, which allows extremely light touch, rather than the prodding action required for the resistive touchscreens used in current inflight entertainment screens.

The system is built on Google's Android software used for tablets and smartphones, and can run internet-connected apps using a plane's satellite internet system.

Rather than the plasticy remote controls found on current inflight entertainment systems, the EX3 includes an iPhone-style LCD touchscreen remote, allowing multi-touch finger swipes.

Of course, passengers will be able to play their own music, movies, TV shows and photos on the inflight entertainment screen.

But they'll also be able to access email and internet apps presenting information like stock quotes, weather at their destination, flight paths plotted on zoomable Google Earth maps and more. That's because, like smartphones, EX3 supports apps created by companies other than Panasonic.

Airlines will be able to create their own apps to make it easier to use the in-flight system and its many features, especially when it comes to in-flight Internet. Want to update Facebook or send a Tweet from 30,000 feet? There'll be an app for that.

Panasonic says that displays will be much higher resolution than current seat-back screens, connecting the Panosonic Avionics brand with Panasonic's popular range of high definition plasma TVs.

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