Panasonic Avionics believes the three new “value-added solutions” it is rolling out will make a passenger’s journey more enjoyable and frictionless, while allowing airlines to increase customer loyalty and ancillary revenues.

To achieve this, the company is unveiling the “Next Cloud,” which it describes as the first system of its type with true global scale.

“We’ve partnered with Amazon to scale up a cloud globally,” Panasonic Avionics CTO David Bartlett said at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany.

Together, the company’s new products—Next Loyalty, Next Theatre and Next Marketplace—will have a multiplier effect to improve the passenger experience, he said.

Next Loyalty will drive passenger engagement by allowing a traveler to personalize their forthcoming flight while still at home by building a list of IFE content they would like to see during their journey and ordering an individual meal. When the passenger embarks, the onboard system will recognize them and have their content ready; it could also recognize if a passenger has not finished watching a film on a previous flight and ask if they wish to resume the movie.

Next Theatre will give the passenger an improved inflight IFE experience by building in noise-canceling devices to a seat, allowing them to listen to movies in high-definition audio without headphones.

Next Marketplace will improve the food and beverage service, as well as the duty-free experience, by delivering to the aircraft precisely what the passenger wants.

The last of these could see appreciable savings on food and drink, Bartlett said: “If you can deliver the right food or goods [to the aircraft] you’re flying with a lot less weight of things that aren’t used. It’s estimated that the airline industry throws away 5 million tonnes of unwanted food every year; in an industry with fine margins, that’s important.”

His predictions that extremely high-definition 4K-standard video would become a standard part of the airline experience was met with some skepticism by some journalists, who asked if any passenger had ever seen even a reliably good-quality HD video—the predecessor to 4K—during a flight.

One Panasonic executive countered that HD standard video was available on Emirates Airline, leading Bartlett to comment: “If it’s important to an airline to make it happen, it will. Once one airline does it, others will ask ‘Why can’t we do that?’’ He believed that passengers would start to see an appreciable number of airlines improving their IFE standards “in the next couple of years.”

Alan Dron