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Espresso of Innovation: Up in the Airwaves

By Keith Pinney, senior planner, Draftfcb Auckland

Hello and welcome to this week's Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week we're walking in the air, floating in a moonlit sky.
Air travel. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we loathe it.
Globally, we feel as though we are all going to be doing more of it. With air travel volumes set to double in the next 20 years, creating a demand for nearly30,000 new aircrafts, there will be more flyers than ever.
It’s fair to say for the passenger experience, not an awful lot has really changed in terms of seats and comfort when it comes to travelling coach. The latest manufacturer battle is being fought overjust a few inches of seat width between Boeing and Airbus.
We eat, sleep, maybe work but for the most part, want to be entertained at some point of our journey to help pass the hours.
Entertain Me
IFEs (or In-Flight Entertainment systems), have traditionally been our source of content beyond the in-flight magazine or airport novel. But with travellers armed with smartphones, tablets, phablets and netbooks, new customer behaviours are driving a rethink in how airlines will deliver onboard content. A recent study indicated 99% of US travellers flew with at leastone personal electronic device with them.
The FAA has recently relaxed rules around on-board device usage and it looks like the public isloving the idea also. Unless, it results in actualphone calls in-flight, which raises both safety andsocial implications; most of us would rather use the wi-fi but not to say, “I love you,” at 45,000 feet.
Some carriers bet on wireless, others embedded systems, but it seems from a customer view that a hybrid model will probably yield the outcome ofmore screens, better content.
Is a screen a screen?
Maybe the answer lies in wearable technology with benefits to carriers and their passengers alike, as highlighted ina recent study by SITA. It could introduce a highly personalised experience, from in-flight health, to service reminders or even greater social aspects between passengers (should they want it).
Implications for Advertisers and Marketers
Merging a single customer view from passenger viewing preferences and habits, social graphs, loyalty programmes and location-based services could turn IFE around from a largely passive experience to one with potent commercial potential for marketers.
The number of new,well-funded start-ups in the sector indicate that it’s just a matter of time before our connected digital universes are along for the ride on board. And with this, all of our terrestrial digital personas, preferences, networks and shopping habits.
The Cost of Comfort
So with less bulky IFEs to take up legroom, will we get those precious inches back?
Briefly back to that subject of comfort, or the seat you get assigned. A new development of "morph seats" that customizes its dimensions based on a traveller's size and booking needs may get you arriving in better shape. Or, maybe even a different shape!
Just by itself, it looks like it could create a lot of entertainment.