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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Panasonic API

Panasonic is one of the behemoths of the IFE world, and you’ve undoubtedly used a Panasonic system on many flights. Panasonic has moved toward an Android operating system for its IFE (like others), and because of that, it makes it a lot easier to open up for outside development.

Panasonic went and created an SDK that would allow developers to create applications that would interface with the IFE system on an airplane. Now this isn’t going to end up being an open market like you see on your phone, because there are many more issues when it comes to airplanes. But this means that any airline customer could create or outsource any number of apps. Heck, if an airline wanted to, it could have a competition to see who could create the best option to go on the airplane.

Now this all sounds pretty pie-in-the-sky (IFE providers have been talking about this for years). But I perked up quickly when Panasonic mentioned that there are a couple airlines actively working on this now and it could be on an airplane by next summer. Now it’s getting interesting.

Panasonic showed me an example of what could be created. This one is for everyone’s favorite airline, PanaAir (never had a delayed flight, I hear). This obviously won’t be on an airplane but it’s a good simple demo that showcases how it could work. The idea here is to integrate the onboard functionality into an airline’s app. So let’s say you already have United’s app on your phone or tablet. (And no, United isn’t the airline actively working on this, but I had to pick someone for the example and they have a great app.)

United could add functionality to the app that would let you browse the entertainment options from the ground. You could watch trailers and prepare for your flight by creating a queue.

Entertainment Queue Panasonic

When you get on the airplane, the app already knows your seat assignment so it could have it so that your screen is ready to welcome you when you get to your seat. You can play the queue that you created on the ground. You can also do all the things discussed in the Lumexis system if you wanted. It’s really up to the developer’s imagination (and the airline’s approval).

I liked the example they gave showing the route of flight at the top of the device. You could even set up notifications for when you hit a certain destination or when you’re a certain amount of time out from landing. In this case, the possibilities are really endless because the developer community would be able to come up with some killer stuff.

Like I said earlier, I know this sounds like it’s just a dream since it’s not flying today. But if it really is something that we’ll see by this time next year, then it’s worth talking about.

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