Portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) firm digEcor has entered a five-year partnership with Chinese firm Lefeel Media Technology to develop next generation handhelds.

The two firms are working jointly on development of two new players, the L7 and L10, featuring 7in and 10in capacitive touch screens, respectively. Prototypes of the portables debuted at last week's World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Palm Springs, California.

Founded in March 2007 as an independent company under ZhiXuan (Wisdom Choice) Enterprise, Lefeel had already successfully designed two generations of portable players and an operational support system for the Asia-Pacific region when management caught the eye of digEcor president Brad Heckel in early 2009.

"I could not believe my eyes when I saw a Lefeel representative at the [Aircraft Interiors Expo] show in Hamburg throw one of their players up in the air allowing it to fall and hit the floor. He then picked it up and demonstrated that not only was the player unbroken, but the movie continued to play seamlessly. At that moment, I knew that Lefeel would prove to be a high-value partner to help offer a superior IFE experience to airlines and passengers alike," says Heckel.

Offering airlines the ability to drive fresh ancillary revenue streams via portables is a key part of digEcor's strategy. "A major airline in December will start offering shopping via [digEcor's] digEplayer units," digEcor CEO Brent Wood revealed at WAEA.

Airlines are also requesting the ability to offer onboard gambling via handhelds. "IF you introduce skill into a game you can wager," notes Wood. However, regulatory obstacles in many countries means that financial transactions will likely occur on the ground, he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news