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IFE is a service provided by aircraft team for the passengers travelling in flights. It is an entertainment service which relaxes the passengers and makes their long journey quite easy, less tiring and entertaining. It was in 1990 the demand for such service had so increased that in flights cabins were prepared and this services was provided in those cabins making their passengers feel of luxurious living. The best service provided by IFE was showing a movie on the screen in the centre of the flight and it could be heard with help of headphones which are plugged in a socket at their respective seats (Goldberg, Larry, 2006).
The landing as well as take off has always been an exciting topic but there is ample of time remained between these take offs and landing within the broader range of corporate jets. Thus they have stepped into providing in flight entertainment systems (IFES). In flight entertainment systems are consisting of three functions such as video, audio and data of flights (Helen Simpson, 2010). It has been argued that airborne office is constituted of entertainment but there are three major forms of conventional entertainment. Large systems from the houses of avionics offer cabins including internet systems of airborne office and satellite communication. These packages are made for each type of installations, so it tends to several comparisons of price.
Embedded Onboard IFE Systems
Nowadays many airlines are providing enhanced services like many airlines have started or installed personal television or TV on every seat for each and every passenger and specially for those who are going to travel for a longer distance or who have a long journey. The TVs are set on the back side of the seat with buttons on their armrest area to control the channels and volume etc. In order to provide such services different systems like audio visual on demand or broadcasting directly using satellite TV which helps in broadcasting the channels live as they are being broadcasted on the ground (World Airline Entertainment Association, 2006). Not only this but some airlines also provide other entertainment services like playing video games on personal TV installed on each seat. Some provides such services only for business class or first class people and some airlines provide it on the whole fight or there are few who do not provide only such services.
Another service provided by airlines is portable entertainment service which means every passenger in the flight is provided with a personal portable entertainment service like digital player or DVD players or drop down LCD screens on their seat etc for watching movies, listening music, playing games etc. These services are not only provided for longer distance flights but also for short distance flights. As the entertainment industry is expanding then its demand in air is also increasing whether it is short distance flights or longer distances flights.
Forms of In-flight Entertainment
Other forms of in-flight entertainment services for the passengers travelling in aircrafts are as follows (Rutenberg, Uwe and Hunter-Zaworski, 2007):
Cabin Music: if there is a personal audio available then soft music helps a lot in relaxation of mind and making oneself comfortable. And when in a cabin personal audio is there with soft music then that makes a perfect place to travel in. It's not only that but when music is to be heard one can hear it and if one doesn't then one can stop it by pressing buttons on the headset. It has its advantage also that if any instructions are being in a flight then at that time music is stopped automatically. So such service is very beneficial for the airline service.
Audio Entertainment: audio entertainment is another source of entertainment in airlines which can be used either for listening music, hearing news, enjoying with comedy talk shows, other talk show providing business information, pre-recorded interviews of various artists etc. another service is audio video on demand (AVOD) service which is also very entertaining helps in listening music or anything what the passenger wants i.e. it happens on demand of the passenger enhances this service to a large extent. Such services are used with the help of headphones attached to every seat of the passenger with some button to control and make choice accordingly.
Video Entertainment: before video entertainment was possible in the flights by putting a large screen in between the cabin so that everyone can see the video and enjoy. Then as and when time flies it came up with the small monitors fitted at the back side of each seat. These monitors were supported by headphones to hear the sound which was distributed to every passenger for entertainment. Nowadays personal TV with headphones has made it easy for the passengers to see and hear channels of their own choice and enjoy. There is an in flight management system which helps in operating personal TVs by broadcasting various channels showing news, music, pre-recorded interviews etc. Satellites are also used to operate the whole entertainment system whether it is audio or video.
Skytrax a British aviation research firm had shown that since airlines is service oriented to customers then here customers are of utmost importance in this field and undoubtedly the choice of the customer in IFE is equally important than anything else. So for that purpose many airlines started giving control to the passengers by offering AVOD besides avoiding the age, Sex, education etc of the customer. Today it has become a must for the airline business to provide such services and not only for the flights of longer distance but also for the flights going for the short distances specially those flights which are travelling for more than 17 hrs passengers expect a lot more from onboard IFE system.
Current IFE Systems
The research and development and policy arm of the media arm group at WGBH has national centre for accessible media (NCAM) which was found in 1993 was built on WGBH knowledge base in order to access the technology as it is the national leader in accessing all forms of audio/video (Goldberg, 2006).
Structural designing of context aware in-flight entertainment system
Figure: designing of context aware in-flight entertainment system
This given figure represents the components that makes up the architecture of context aware in flight entertainment system. The entertainment service managers have the responsibility for providing in flight entertainment services like games, videos, music etc. This includes various service management functions like registration, un-registration etc. In this field, the user context officer/manager gathers and moulds the signals received from sensors and also the manager updates the database of context information. An implicated engine is known as the core component of this architecture.
This part is used for mediating between the context of user and entertainment services. It can be understood by giving the set of algorithm:
Providing stress free entertainment services cleverly in the passengers within flight are stresses and not in condition of sleeping, in case of chattering with another passengers and the people who are enjoying in flight entertainment services.
Presenting entertainment service categories on the basis of demographic criteria of passengers only if the passengers are interested in selecting entertainment services by their own choice.
There is a strong coordination between these parts/components and it is based totally on the event control action. For an instance, one passenger who was in stress and was not in the condition of sleeping or entertaining or working, the engine will search out for music list and will select personally selected music on the basis of collected demographic information of passengers and then it plays the music for passengers for reducing their stress level.
Integration of in-flight entertainment services by major firms
When these services are properly integrated, in-flight entertainment systems can work in an integrated manner, thus it creates loyalty of strong passengers. The airframe manufacturers are expertise in assessing original data information and troubleshooting IFE systems along with its peripherals. It includes management systems of cabin services. It all increases and maximizes reliability as well as performance levels of IFE systems. From the starting of IFEs, the engineers try to integrate and certify these complex systems so that they can start working easily. An access to original data from the designing of original airplane has made several changes that are much easier than this. The airplane manufacturers have gained an expertise within the field of project management and thus they maintain their relationships with suppliers. It benefits us in the diligence of integration and installation that includes logistics and worldwide spares.
Proper planning and installation of IFE systems are core elements for any type of airlines. Major airline firms have their own specialists, engineers and project management team which provides everything from the evaluation part to the testing part for the purpose of certifying the in flight entertainment systems of selected choices. They manage suppliers of these types of systems that include seat, gallery suppliers and peripherals for understanding the requirements of the system. On site is support is important for giving assistance to all. Major airline firms work more on making all complex systems to work properly. They manage all aspects of the project from the stage of developing IFE systems by certification, airplane services and in service support. It all brings the loyalty of passengers at the time of gaining services of in-fight entertainment systems.
In flight-entertainment services vary and ranges from single vital skills to the higher range of complexity of full systems and it is all based on the needs of people/passengers. These services as well as products are produced for meeting high quality services standards that proves them best within all airline industry. It includes several things such as:
Integration of airplane
Proper installation of In-flight entertainment systems
Video control centres
Video and audio systems
Integration and designing of fibre optics as well as high speed networks
Integration of connectivity systems
Integrated audio and video systems
Association of wiring and racks
Taking an example of Boeing, Standard interface management systems of cabin services has standardized an interface for in-flight entertainment systems. It also includes cabin management systems for integrating airplane system by using same interface. It establishes protocol for transferring information and also it establishes several procedures for electrical timings and requirements, controlling of logical standards along with its maintenance. After installing this standardized kit, it gives a proper interface for the purpose to install an ARINC to furnish IFE systems to enhance videos, games, passenger service functions and functionality of audio functions.
There are several benefits of proper in-flight entertainment systems that can increase reliability as well as weight savings of IFE systems. It also reduce lines related to replaceable units, reduces maintenance of shop and line, costs of spare holding and provisioning of spare parts, reduces impacts if IFE systems and up gradation of IFE systems, segregates interfaces from the technological advancement of IFE systems and provides commonality features of IFE systems (Stephen Shaw, 2007). This kit comprises of service bulletins and management system software for cabin services and also it includes revision to weight as well as balancing of airplane, maintenance handbooks etc.
Categories of Entertainment services
The entertainment services can be divided into two categories, they are:
Passive- the passive type of entertainment services means where users and system's interaction is very low and thus the passenger has no option but to enjoy the chosen entertainment like a particular movie or a song etc which is provided to the person in an organized and in package form.
Active - the active type of entertainment service is that type of service where the passenger spends most of his/her time in interacting with the system and enjoys various entertaining services like any game or a talk show or an interview or some news etc thus making them busy enough in enjoying the entertainment service and they don't even come to know when they reached to their destined place.
Now we will concentrate basically on music and games which contributes a lot in reducing the physical as well as psychological stress of the passenger and there is a long literature about the same. However Tansik & Routhieaux 1999; Palmer 2005 have proved that music acts like medicine to decrease the stress and make people relax after listening to it. The airlines generally provide some exercise tips on some paper flyers or in electronic texts which helps in reducing the stress but most of the time passengers ignore them. But our IFE system is so made that it interacts such exercise tips with passengers in the form of games making them play where if the passenger is interested in the game then he /she will have to do according to the instructions. Thus the passenger's mind is diverted and it helps in reducing the stress making them feel more comfortable. So we can understand how music lovers and game players feel after enjoying it and they become a valuable activity for the entertainment industry.
Thus we can conclude that today airline industry has made a huge advancement and planning even better for providing entertainment service to the passengers. In airline industry various airlines are striving hard to satisfy the passengers travelling in their flights making them all the more relaxed, comfortable and at ease thereby leaving an a impact in the minds of the passengers that in future these passengers prefer to travel in their airlines. This shows the airline business is customer oriented and believes in providing quality service to their customers.
IFE Systems Technical Status Report
In IFE there is a new technology found that is the display of captions where passengers will be receiving video signals for any information or instructions but its work is still in progress. New way of distributing video signals is throughout the aircraft cabin. Such signals differ from those analog television signals which a passenger has to see it but this new video signals can be read only on the press of a single button. For e.g. there is a caption "line 21" which can be written as CEA-608 which is U.S. standard for presenting analog captions by Federal Communications Commission, this caption needs to be broadcasted and cable fails in broadcasting the same as these are the digital signals. So to transfer these digital captions via IFE system has to be developed and that too on automatic basis so that transmission of digital captions is done easily and quickly. Though there are many variations in IFE system like movies, music, and videos etc which are already being broadcasted and in between if we want to display the digital captions is not an easy task because these digital captions need to be edited, formatted, timed etc before broadcasting it. It requires formatting because of a simple reason that it is to be matched with the IFE system and this formatting is done even prior to re-encoded video which means formatting of such captions is required on each and every step before being displayed. In some airlines there are satellites, EchoStar which broadcast directly but such digital signals cannot be broadcasted with these satellites or EchoStar because these digital captions need to be formatted and if they are broadcasted with the help of satellites or EchoStar they will be broadcasted directly so for this purpose a software is needed to be developed and installed in IFE systems so that passengers can read out the correct or formatted captions (Michael H. Tooley,Â Mike Tooley,Â David Wyatt, 2008). As we all know with the advancement of technology many airlines today are planning for providing with the portable IFE services to the passengers just in the same way as the channels are broadcasted on home TVs and these portable devices are being planned to install with the IFE system so that passengers can get to read out the closed captions just at the press of a single button as these portable devices have English subtitles which makes it easy to display the captions accordingly.
Importance of IFE
Travelling for long distances by air is not at all a routine activity. There are chances that people may suffer from physiological or some psychological stress or discomfort which can make a person violent in his/her reaction which can directly or indirectly affect the health of a person (WHO 2005). So for that purpose only IFE has come up and many air service providers have seen how effective on-board entertainment service is as it reduces the passenger's discomfort. Though today IFE is not yet being completely explored as to determine the better ways of serving passengers. As the customer or the passenger is given the ultimate importance so their choice and preferences are to be preferred in providing such services. But as we all know that passengers belong to different backgrounds so their choice will also differ from person to person and if their choice is fulfilled then the passengers will be satisfied completely as our control system is designed according to the user based which means the passenger can use IFE system according to their demand. So for that purpose passenger has to first interact with the controller with the help of browser and then select the desired services. So here the important thing is to be thought about is that there should a strong connectivity in such services as this may annoy the passenger. So for this paper we will now compare the stress free IFE service provision and currently installed IFE:
It helps in making the passenger enjoy the entertainment service of their choice depending upon their likes and dislikes and thus helps in reducing the stress.
Since the passenger has full control over the service so he/she gets bored out of a particular channel then he/she can browse for another entertainment of his/her choice and enjoy.
In-flight entertainment services are important for both passengers and airlines. There are so many advantages of airlines such as the IFE acts as a differentiated factor but in near future, these can become the part of expectations of passengers (Wallacea, Gieseb and Johnson, 2004). The fact has become more obvious that IFE has higher potential for generating revenue. It has also been stated that In-flight entertainment is not a fully differentiated part from passenger point of view at the time of selecting airlines. It adds customer satisfaction and this level of satisfaction leads the higher level of customer loyalty. Loyalty is taken as of utmost importance that loyal customers are more willing to pay higher amount (Wallacea, Gieseb and Johnson, 2004).And also they buy more and produces positive word of mouth technology, therefore it suggests a strong connectivity between the term profitability and loyalty (Johnson, 2004). It has been stated that IFE has higher impact and that is felt indirectly by an increase within the loyalty of passengers. This shows positive impacts on revenues generated by airlines. In-flight entertainment services are important from passenger point of view too. It demands the high amount for leisure passengers that it provides not only entertainment. It is also demanded by business class passengers that they are provided with new technologies and also connectivity with internet. It helps them to keep right track of emails and permits them for working while travelling by flights.
IFE systems and technology
Technologies are rapidly changing and an unprecedented race has taken place among the competitors of providers of airline services to keep them on the top position. It is done to achieve the first mover advantage. It has been stated that airlines can ditch in-flight entertainment services in near future as similar to mobile engagement gadgets which has become widely used concept. It gives the passengers the full ability for customising the content and it has been revolutionised the ways to work with IFE systems. Technological advancement has taken place that invention of ipad of Apple has launched IFE gaming that is going to change at higher pace, airlines are making several major changes for getting hold of new invention where customers may become capable to customize the content by giving them permission for accessing information through internet. They are not restricted to access to fewer programs on their airlines on which IFE system is a proper format. Researchers have revealed the fact that Blue box Avionics is a firms which given technological advancements and also it give contents for enabling IFE systems. It has been announced that this firms will give ipad to the passengers as the part of in-flight entertainment services (Cheng-Lung Wu, 2010).
A New Entertainment Adaptive Framework for Stress Free Air Travels: AIRSF
Travelling by using airline on long routes is not a natural phenomenon for human being. Large number of people experiences a higher degree of psychological as well as physiological discomfort or stress at the time of travelling by airlines (World Health Organization, 2005). Numerous airlines have identified the potential of entertainment systems for improving comfort level of passengers. The installed as well as available in flight entertainment system do not discover that how in flight entertainment services can decrease the negative stress of passengers by using systematic and intelligent way. These entertainment services are totally based on the perceptions of customers that what they like and what is required for group of homogenous passengers that keeps similar desires as well as tastes (Liu, H., 2006.). They show same types of in flight entertainment interfaces and content part to each and every passenger while flying. If the passengers want to get several personal entertainment services, they can interact with the systems for getting desired services from given options. If these choices are in large number but the interaction designs are very poor, then the passengers get disoriented and they cannot manage these entertainment services.
Figure: AIRSF: Adaptive framework for stress free air travels
This figure shows a new framework for in-flight entertainment adaptive framework named as AIRSF. This framework starts through setting up the targets to passengers by providing them comfortable state of physical as well as psychological state. This system starts with an observation of current physical and psychological state of passengers. It is modelled on the basis of giving bio feedback signals by passengers that are needed to be controlled well. It creates an internal representation of psychological as well as physical situations. After that it depends on the dissimilarity between physical and psychological state. The adaptive framework can determine: whether the passengers are in the targeting stated or not, if the passengers are not within target state then optimisation of entertainment services are suggested on the basis of user preferences, content of available entertainment and context of use. This is used for obtaining right amount of information for transferring passengers to the target state at minimum time cost. The passengers are taken as an adaptive system and their perceptions may create internal demonstration of entertainment services. This perception can affect their states and at the time of this process, it may be influenced by several factors or variables that are called disturbances. The changes within these states have perceived through the system and it may trigger the adaptive part of this system. Preferences of user entertainment largely depend on the user context. If this framework suggests entertainment services that are not liked by passengers, they may suggest their own selected entertainment or may shut down the system. This framework may automatically learn and adapt the preferences of passengers; therefore the more use of in flight entertainment system, then more personalized entertainment services can be suggested to the passengers.