Since writing my "sexy stuff" blog about Panasonic Avionics' iPod integration strategy and supplying comment to Flight International about the significance of this move, I've been fielding some further queries about the system, which includes a seat-installed "eXport" jack and "smart" cable.
One curious reader asks: "So, does this mean regular USB - or other non proprietary interfaces - will be supported as well? Is this another apple marketing scheme, or an honest attempt from the aviation industry to integrate personal entertainment?"
It's a good question, deserving of a worthy answer. So I asked Panasonic director, product line management Marshal Perlman to break things down for us (who loves ya, baby?).
Perlman says: "Our IFE system supports a number of interfaces and the eXport jack only complements USB. In the case of Singapore Airlines, they offer both USB and eXport on their aircraft. This is something that we encourage all our customers to do and our system is easily able to support eXport and USB interfaces simultaneously if so desired by the airline.
"The goal of Panasonic Avionics Corporation in creating the eXport jack was to provide airlines passengers with an easy to use solution for integrating personal entertainment devices with our IFE systems. The alternative to eXport would be an "octopus" type cable that is less than elegant. The eXport initiative launched by Panasonic Avionics Corporation's R&D team and it is just the one of the many technology advancements that Panasonic plans on introducing.
"A technical note that might also be of interest is that Apple does not permit video over USB at this time and analog video output is currently the only method available to 'Made for iPod' solution providers like Panasonic. While it is true that digital audio output (over USB) is something that could be implemented, our market research has shown airline passengers want two simple features: (1) output their personal video and audio to the IFE system and (2) having power supplied to their iPod.
"Needless to say, eXport does both of these in a single cable. And since we're using USB technology to send power to the iPod, airlines can provide this service even if they don't have in-seat (PED) power. In fact, this is one of the main reasons that airlines want eXport (and USB jacks)... so that passengers can charge their iPod players, BlackBerry phones, etc. using USB power."
Photo from Panasonic's USB Media Player datasheet found here
USB MediaPlayer Datasheet.pdf
Read the complete post at http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/runway-girl/2008/05/x-is-spot-on-breaking-down-the.html
Thu, May 29 2008 4:03 PM
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Filed under: Air Transport, Panasonic Avionics, In-flight Entertainment/Communications, IFE, Apple, Blackberry, Singapore Airlines, Marshal Perlman, in-flight entertainment, eXport, USB, SIA, iPod