In anticipation of the upcoming APEX TECH in sunny Newport Beach, California November 17-18, we sat down with Michael Childers, chair of the APEX Technology Committee and member of the APEX Board of Directors to discuss the conference’s highly-anticipated speaker from Google and recent conference fee changes for members to be aware of.

Location: MCI – after 30 years in Southern California
Frequent flight: MCI-FRA via ORD or DFW
Now watching: My diet
The future of flight will be: Phenomenal
Favorite Airport: MCI
Recline or no recline? No recline
Seatback or PED? PED
Brand of suitcase? Boyt
Passport stamp you wish you had: Edinburgh

This is the first time that APEX TECH will require a paid registration from members. Would you please explain why this change has been made?

Our twice yearly meetings of the Technology Committee originated as working meetings of active Working Groups; attendance consisted mostly of Working Group members with everyone involved actively. As these meetings have more recently migrated into full-on Technology Conferences with guest speakers, and whose participants are comprised mostly of people coming to receive information and education, the costs of providing the TECHs has increased. These costs are not being covered by sponsorship and allocated portions of membership fees.

In addition, as the scope and responsibility of the Technology Committee has grown, and as the current pace of technological change requires more than can be done by volunteers, APEX has hired a part-time Technical Director, Bryan Rusenko. Our new APEX CEO, Joe Leader, is also very much involved in the technologies that impact the industry and our outreach to other companies and organizations with similar interests. In view of these increased costs, and continuing deficits, the Board has moved to put the TECHs on the same financial footing as other Educational Conferences with similar – and often higher – fees.

 What sessions are new to TECH?

One of the new things that we are doing at the TECH is 1) building a formal technology path from where we are now through about five years from now, identifying the standards and specifications that we will deal with, and 2) launching an Emerging Technologies Advisory Panel to look five to ten years into the future to consider those technologies that will impact us in the longer term. That Panel, which includes high-level experts from outside the IFEC and pax experience space, will be a standing committee helping us to establish liaisons with other industries and other standards groups with whom we should be working.

We are very pleased to announce that Joe Leader, APEX CEO, has arranged for a high-level executive from Google to participate [at] TECH.

What sessions are you most looking forward to?

I’m particularly interested in some of the topics to be discussed by the Emerging Technologies Advisory Panel. One of these is a conversation about the need for open data exchange standards in all technologies that impact the passenger experience. A Silicon Valley CEO will lead that discussion. We will also discuss the very significant impact of the migration of encoding/transcoding in the cloud.

There is an update by the APEX Closed Captioning Working Group on the schedule. Can you share any details in advance of TECH?

We are very close to a specification for Closed Captions in IFE. In prior TECHs we have discussed Timed Text and WebVTT standards. At this TECH the CC Working Group will report out on IMSC-1 and IMSC-2 which offer mapping from/to Timed Text and WebVTT. Bryan Rusenko has lead that WG in a magisterial effort, and we have engaged with MovieLabs, a research and development company run by the major motion picture studios, and the actual author of the IMSC-1/2 specifications.

Over the past year, in which areas of the passenger experience has the Technology Committee made the most progress?

One of the most significant areas of progress made by the TC in the last couple of years has involved our outreach to other standards bodies to ensure that our IFE specifications align with, and are part of, broader content delivery ecosystems. These include the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) Interoperable Master Format (IMF), the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystems (DECE) Common Format—which includes interoperable DRM—and MovieLabs’ IMSC-1/2.

We are very pleased to announce that Joe Leader, APEX CEO, has arranged for a high-level executive from Google to participate [at] TECH to discuss with us their vision of technologies common to our mutual industries. This means that the Technology Committee and the Association are looking beyond content delivery technologies and into discussions of such matters as open data exchange standards in all technologies that impact APEX members. Over time, we will engage Google, Apple, Facebook and others in these efforts.

For the full conference agenda and registration information, click here.