Skybox Turns Bizjet Cabins Into AVOD Environs

NBAA Convention News » 2012
Skybox includes two HDMI Rockwell Collins Skybox allows up to 10 users to select and view TV shows and movies on their personal devices.
Skybox includes two HDMI Rockwell Collins Skybox allows up to 10 users to select and view TV shows and movies on their personal devices.
October 31, 2012, 11:00 AM

Business jet passengers want to experience a seamless transition between their high-tech home entertainment systems and the inflight entertainment (IFE) systems installed on the jets that they fly, but there is an impediment that needs fixing; how to bring the content on their home systems to the aircraft. Rockwell Collins has developed a solution, Skybox, which brings sophisticated airliner audio-video on-demand (AVOD) to business jets.

A problem with delivering movies and music to passengers is how to make that content available, simply and legally. Airlines pay thousands of dollars to movie studios and music publishers for the rights to offer that content to passengers. The owner of a jet, technically, could load movies and music from a home collection into a server on their airplane, but this causes all sorts of headaches, such as having to rip music into a format like MP3 or copy movies that are protected with copy-protection schemes. And what if this content isn’t what the passengers care to consume? “Before Skybox,” said DucHuy Tran, Rockwell Collins director of cabin systems marketing, “you couldn’t do AVOD legally.”

Skybox neatly solves this problem, allowing the passenger to bring their own content on their Apple devices and share it with other passengers. Skybox, in effect, is like the Apple TV device but designed for a business jet. Apple allows up to five devices to be authorized to share content, so Skybox becomes one of those devices. According to Rockwell Collins, “With one terabyte of onboard storage capacity, Skybox is the first airworthy solution to securely stream digital rights management Hollywood-protected content both to cabin displays and to Apple devices brought on board.”

Skybox isn’t just about entertainment content but can also be used to mirror a presentation, photos, documents, etc. from an iPad to cabin monitors during an onboard meeting. By hooking up an iPad, iPhone or iPod to Skybox, up to 10 people can then watch content from those devices on their own devices, all at the same time. “This has never been done for business jets,” said Huy Tran.

Skybox includes two HDMI outputs, which can drive two external HD monitors, or Skybox can wirelessly stream 10 movies to 10 Apple devices. When the content-containing device is hooked up to Skybox and playing, say, a movie, the user can access other apps on that iPad. Rockwell Collins’s Airshow is one example of an app that a passenger might want to view while fellow passengers are watching a movie.

The Rockwell Collins Airshow app went live on the App Store on September 10, 30 years after Airshow’s first installation in a Falcon jet. The Airshow Interactive app works with Rockwell Collins Airshow 4000 and Venue Cabin HD systems. A unique feature of the app is that users can use the iPad to see a panoramic view–sort of synthetic vision for passengers–where the moving map of the outside world rotates as the iPad is moved. The view changes based on FMS data and the iPad’s internal gyros.

Skybox weighs about five pounds. A wireless access point is required to get the full functionality from Skybox. Dassault Falcon has selected Skybox for Falcon 7X, 900LX and 2000LX models equipped with Rockwell Collins FalconCabin HD+ systems.

Demonstrations of Airshow Interactive and Skybox are available at the Rockwell Collins booth (No. 1896).

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