I just got hit by an eye catching story on Mary Kirby’s Runway Girl Blog regarding the iPad as a platform for In-Flight Entertainment. London based Bluebox Avionix has announced that they will reveal their iPad-based “bluebox Ai” inflight entertainment device at next week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.
The high bar in the realm of inflight entertainment was arguably set by Virgin America’s RED system. Virgin America probably invested a lot of time and money designing and developing custom hardware and software to make RED work. They had to – three years ago, when RED was released, there were no viable Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) devices for such use. Now, with the iPad, the much cheaper Android based Archos tablets, and upcoming tablet offerings from Google/Verizon, HP, JooJoo, and probably many others to arrive soon, there are plenty of choices.
The choice of the iPad for a custom application seems curious to me on a variety of levels. The purpose of the device is largely to provide flyers with in-flight movies, music, web browsing (if the plane is WiFi enabled) and perhaps other diversions. It sounds like a cool idea. But the iPad/iPhone isn’t exactly the most open platform.
Curious, I did a little e-mail chat with Rick Stuart, Managing Director at Bluebox to find out how this’ll work and how the decision was made to go with iPad – as opposed to a competing OS and hardware that might be cheaper (like Android, webOS, Maemo, etc.).