TrayVu – airplane seat tray doubles as IFE system

Tablet pc’s, such as the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, continue to make inroads into the aircraft cabin, as airlines are increasingly looking to replace hard-wired seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) units with lighter wi-fi-based models. For examples, airlines such as American Airlines, Gol, Delta, Condor, Qantas (trial) and Virgin America (2012), are installing wireless IFE systems that allow passengers to wirelessly access content stored on an onboard server with their own electronic devices.

American Airlines will also provide Samsung Galaxy Tabs to its Business and First passengers on domestic and international routes that are served by B757 and B767 aircraft. The carrier will roll out a total of 6,000 Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets in the next months to replace the current personal entertainment devices. And Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar will rent out iPads onboard, which passengers can hang at eye level on the back of the seat in front of them.

The Samsung Galaxy tablet is also the centerpiece of a novel IFE solution called TrayVu. Unveiled last month at the Airline Passenger Experience Expo in Seattle, the TrayVu combines the meal tray and the IFE system into one, integrating the Samsung Galaxy Tab into the seat-back tray. De system has a 8.9-inch high-definition touch screen for control, that can be flipped out and up when the table is lowered. Thanks to a clever design, which basically amounts to a hole cut in the tray, the display is still viewable when the tray table is put in an upright position.

The concept seems to have been inspired by how passengers are using their laptop in Economy, and has been designed by Bill Boyer, who earlier introduced the well-known digEplayer portable IFE handheld.

Order from seat
Content available on the wi-fi enabled device includes movies, TV shows (both paid and free) and music. Passengers can also play games with others in the cabin (and see them on the built-in camera on the Samsung device). Each tray also has its own credit card reader, allowing passengers to purchase food and drink from their tray table. They can even run up a tab for items purchased for other passengers, such as their children.

According to Greg Latimer, chief marketing officer of Skycast Solutions, the company behind the TrayVu, the firm has put a lot of effort into the point-of-sale aspect. “We really think there is so much value for the airline in bringing that cash register to the passenger and getting it out of the hands of the flight attendants.”

Weighing less than two pounds per seat, the TrayVu IFE system is positioned as a cost-effective alternative to ‘standard’ seat-back IFE systems, as instead of having to retrofit seats with LCD displays, only the existing seat’s fold-down tray has to be replaced. The cost of each TrayVu unit is about USD2,000, compared to USD4-8,000 for an entire IFE-equipped seat. According to Skycast’s CMO Latimer, an added benefit of the system is that passengers “won’t have that ‘head-tap’ thing going on that happens when the person behind them starts playing with traditional seatback systems.”

Asked whether the see-through section of the tray-table wouldn’t get dirty? Skycast’s Latimer commented that “Our plan is to provide complimentary headphones and a screen wipe in each seat. Customers will wipe off their screens and then probably use it to wipe off their tray tables. The cleaning crews will love us.”


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