You know that handheld media-friendly new tablet gizmo from Apple? Yeah, that one. Turns out that companies are looking at it and wondering how to use it in business–and one, Bluebox, has turned it into an in-flight entertainment box.
If you think about it, this is an ideal solution for in-flight entertainment. iPads are small, portable, give the user control over when and what they do for entertainment, and since they can be wirelessly-served data through specialized apps, it’s easy for the operator to serve out films, TV shows, and what-not. Their battery life is good for all but the longest flights, and re-charging them is easy. Best of all, if you hand out iPads to customers, you don’t need to build in-flight amusement gear into your seat-backs–which obviates all the expense, complication, tricky hardware and software maintenance and sheer weight (think of fuel-savings) associated with dedicated systems.
Hence Bluebox Avionic’s interest in the devices. In this case, the company is looking to use the iPads to supplement hard-wired in-flight systems, and has built dedicated apps for the iPads that complement the 200,000 or so available through Apple–except that the Bluebox app connects to the AV system and serves up movies, 3-D games and so on, and even enables in-flight gambling.
Whether or not you’ll experience that Mission Impossible “I think sir may prefer the cinema of the Orient…” moment through these in-flight iPads isn’t clear… but the scheme is at least a clever use of commercial-off-the-shelf systems in a new way. The only issue that participating airlines are likely to face is successfully retrieving all of the iPads, with their hot-topic uber-cool factor, from the tight grasp of users at the end of the journey.