Image: Ari Magnusson

Everybody is looking at more devices, and passengers are expecting their experiences in the air to match their experiences on the ground, David Bartlett, chief technology officer at Panasonic Avionics said at an early morning press briefing at Aircraft Interiors Expo. Meeting these expectations is a challenge the company is fully embracing.

Today, Panasonic Avionics made announcement after announcement, including a new personalized in-flight 3-D map platform for its NEXT and X Series in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems, a launch customer for a wellness app and a deal with IMG to stream live esports on board aircraft.

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The Future is Mapped

Panasonic began by unveiling its Arc Inflight Map Platform. The product was developed by Sweden-based Tactel Studios and can be displayed on seatback IFE screens, overhead displays, within mobile apps or on web portals.

“We liked the idea of the map as a narrative tool in travel and looked at developing something different from a traditional map platform.” – Andrew Mohr, Panasonic Avionics

“We liked the idea of the map as a narrative tool in travel and looked at developing something different from a traditional map platform,” said Andrew Mohr, Panasonic Avionics’ head of Innovation. “We don’t believe there has ever been this level of talent dedicated to building a map.”

Image: Ari Magnusson

Arc will offer the same functionality as a conventional in-flight map application, but will be able to be integrate into other Panasonic Avionics NEXT services, including its Marketplace e-commerce platform, its Loyalty passenger personalization hub and its Insights analytics service.

It includes an API that allows airlines and third parties to develop their own applications that make use of the map engine and other features, or to add additional content and layers of data on top of a wide variety of map styles.

Several of Arc’s features were developed in partnership with FlightAware, including the ability to track aircraft across an airlines’ fleet and to give precise estimates of runway and gate arrival times as well as proactive information about connecting flight delays. Arc will also include destination-based content curated by Raleigh and Drake, a travel recommendation platform that sources content from social media influencers.

“By re-imagining the map experience based on its full potential, and integrating it as a core service of our NEXT and X Series IFEC systems, we can greatly elevate the passenger experience and the value of maps for our airline customers,” said Sandoval. “Arc will offer everything that our airline customers have come to expect in a contemporary map application with the addition of many innovative features and tools, made possible only through our ‘Map as a Service’ approach. We believe this is one of the most exciting advances ever for in-flight maps.”

 Wellness Solution Launch Customer Announced

Panasonic Avionics also gave an update about its Wellness platform. It announced a partnership to jointly develop an in-flight wellness solution with Etihad Aiways. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will be the launch customer for a new service called the Jet Lag Adviser, which has been developed in partnership with Detalytics.

It’s an artificial intelligence-based app that uses several passenger data inputs, including chronotype, circadian rhythms, height, weight, the nature of travel, and travel information such as flight times, routes and zones to produce a personalized plan to help minimize jet lag.

The Jet Lag Advisor will give passengers “personalized jet lag impact scores” to estimate how severe jet lag would be on a certain flight itinerary, also taking into consideration pre- and post-flight stages of a journey with recommendations on what to do at each point in the journey. The app will send notifications throughout each stage of a journey to remind passengers on when to sleep, get exposure to light, hydrate themselves and what types of food to eat.

“This will be the first of many wellness initiatives we will explore together.” – Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group

“With the Jet Lag Advisor, we can now leverage artificial intelligence to improve the travel experience. This will be the first of many wellness initiatives we will explore together, and we are excited about our partnership with Panasonic and the possibilities that lie ahead,” said Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group’s chief commercial officer.

Game Changer

Finally, Panasonic Avionics also announced two video games announcements. It will start streaming esports through IMG’s Sport 24 Extra in-flight television channel. The company said this will be the first time competitive gaming will be streamed on commercial aircraft with Panasonic hardware. Sandoval noted that the average age of a gamer is 35, which he said is the same average age of airline passengers across the board.

It also announced partnerships with Toca Boca and Gameloft to offer a catalog of in-flight video games. “We are strategically partnering with leading gaming brands and pairing them with our industry-leading hardware and infrastructure, enabling us to bridge the divide between passenger expectations and airline offerings with the introduction of the next generation of gaming to aviation,” said Sandoval.