Before social distancing protocols took effect, it was easy to take for granted the number of interactions passengers have with each other and with crew during a flight. IdeaNova Technologies (IdeaNova) hopes to keep the social aspect of flying alive with a new video chat feature baked into its IFE portal.
Humans crave connection, especially in unfamiliar environments. Airlines can make the cabin a lot more hospitable during the COVID era by introducing IdeaNova’s new Inplay Video Chat function, which allows passengers to hold video conferences with crew and fellow travelers directly from their seats.
The function is just a click away for passengers, who can also set up watchlists before boarding and send text messages to others in the cabin via the IFE portal. The service runs on Linux and can be integrated into any system. The company claims its infrastructure has gone through many evolutions, driven by the need for new features and better performance as well as by external changes imposed by vendors such as Google, Microsoft and Apple.
IdeaNova’s CEO, Juraj Siska, said new functionality is exactly what airlines are prioritizing right now as they work to increase health and safety. But Inplay Video Chat is not just a COVID play. While airlines are reducing touchpoints right now, Linda Oglesbee, account manager at IdeaNova, argued that widespread adoption of touchless technology like this helps advance the next wave of IFE innovation.
While the idea for Inplay Video Chat was conceived at the onset of the pandemic, she said her team had been considering how to make its digital products more social before the crisis, in order to cater to the next generation of passengers. She also believes crew chatting is here to stay, because it allows ease of accessibility for people with disabilities, for example.
The Inplay IFE Portal also opens another potential revenue stream for airlines: It was recently enhanced with Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) compliant advertising features. Oglesbee explained that carriers can serve passengers pre- or mid-roll ads, and can configure which portions are skippable and which are mandatory to view. “This new ad serving functionality is much easier to configure and provides an almost immediate transition between ad and entertainment content in comparison to the earlier generation of ad serving,” she noted, adding that IdeaNova provides an ad scheduling feature while also integrating with third party ad servers that are VAST compliant.
IdeaNova will be providing in-person demos of Inplay Video Chat at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, scheduled to run from August 31 to September 2, 2021. Those who can’t make it to this event can request demos anytime.