Image: Jorge de la Paz

APEX Insight: Cadami is giving airlines a way to cater to passengers’ appetite for entertainment – without the lag.

Remember the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Mike Teavee is “sent by television”? He is teleported, whizzing around above his father’s head in millions of tiny pieces before being put back together to appear as a miniature version of himself on screen.

Coded caching isn’t much different, and it comes with big benefits for airlines. According to Thomas Kuehn, co-founder of Munich-based company Cadami, which commercialized the technology in the in-flight entertainment (IFE) space, coded caching can reduce an airline’s bandwidth usage by between 50 and 80 percent.

Coded caching can reduce an airline’s bandwidth usage by between 50 and 80 percent.

It works by systematically storing content in tiny chunks – between a kilobyte and a few megabytes – at each seatback system throughout the cabin. Depending on who’s watching what, parcels of content are intelligently combined and transmitted over the network. They are decoded together with the cache at each passenger’s seat to unlock a following segment of the film or TV show they are watching.

“Passenger one and passenger two would receive the same chunk sent over the network, but once combined with the ones in their own cache, they’d each receive a different piece of content,” Kuehn explains, adding that Cadami’s software can perform up to thousands of these transmissions every second.

So while traditional IFE systems can stream between 2,000 and 3,000 movies to approximately 200 users at a time, with Cadami’s coded caching solution, airlines can provide the same to over 500 users – Kuehn calls it “pure mathematics.”

Interestingly, Kuehn says, the technology isn’t new. It was created 30 years ago, but until people started accessing video-on-demand services on different mobile devices, there wasn’t really a use case for it, hence the commercial delay. Three undisclosed IFE hardware suppliers have already signed up for Cadami’s software following successful proof of concept projects, and the company is set for growth in other sectors, too, including the in-flight connectivity (IFC) space.

The company’s first prototype for the IFC market could become available as early as the end of this year, with plans to conquer the cellular network in 2020, at which point, Kuehn believes, it’ll finally be time to say goodbye to the wait cursor – what he calls, “the spinny circle of doom.” 

“Byte Sized” was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.