Development of Pre-paid In-flight entertainment system for a leading In Flight Entertainment Design Services Company
This case study showcases the development of an in-flight entertainment system based on a pre-paid USB device from concept to product for a leading Canadian In Flight Entertainment Design Services Company.
The Client is Canada's leading In Flight Entertainment Design Services Company and has over 20 years experience in maintenance of IFE systems for companies worldwide. The Client also handles custom electrical and structural works for small and big aircrafts.
The Client wanted to showcase a Proof of concept of a pre-paid access system for entertainment and in-flight gift purchase at the annual WAEA exhibition. The idea was to show how an Airline passenger could buy time units from an Airline, how he could use them for in-flight entertainment and gift purchase. Calsoft had barely Five weeks to build the Proof of Concept demo which included building the required main board (SCU) for USB stick validation and displaying time units usage, relay board, customizing the USB stick for pre-paid time units purchase, developing Charging terminal and Hand held terminal software for gift purchase, developing interface between SCU and the AVOD (Audio-Video on Demand server). Calsoft just did the entire development well ahead of the deadline, completed successful demo at the Client's office before shipping the units for the WAEA Exhibition.
Calsoft's solution had a radical design based on ARM9 micro controller based Seat Control Unit (SCU). The system had a single motherboard based on ARM9 microcontroller with all required interfaces like Ethernet, RS232, LCD and USB. Additionally there was a relay board for controlling the AC power outlet, a Keypad for menu selection on the AVOD server (LAPTOP) communicating with the SCU through Ethernet thus forming a highly integrated solution. Two Laptops were used as Charging and Hand held terminals. Charging terminal was used to charge the USB Stick with required time units through a dummy credit card and the POS terminal had the software for Gift purchase using the valid USB stick. A 20x 4 Character LCD was used to show time units available and decrement of time units once the USB stick is validated and any of the AVOD menus is selected.
The various components of the System are:
- SCU (Seat Control Unit):
The SCU uses an ARM9 micro controller AT91SAM9263 that comes with rich set of peripherals suitable for IFC application. The SCU software validates a programmed USB stick, controls the AVOD server, power to the AC Outlet, and keeps track of the number of time units consumed after validation and also the remaining available time units after the usage. This unit has relay interfaces and the keypad interfaces to select various menu options available for the in-flight entertainment.
- AVOD Server:
AVOD server is connected to SCU motherboard through Ethernet. The AVOD server runs an advertisement by default. Once the USB stick has been validated, the AVOD switches to an attractive, user friendly entertainment menu on a command from SCU motherboard. It remains in that mode until another command received from the SCU switches it back to AD mode.
- Charging station:
The charging station is used to charge or recharge a valid USB Stick with time units that are paid for via a credit or debit card.
- Hand Held Terminal:
This terminal checks the available time units on the USB stick and also used for in-flight shopping. The user can shop on board the aircraft based on the time units available. At the end of the transaction, the Hand held terminal displays the time units remaining on the USB Stick
- Hardware: ARM9, USB 2.0, Ethernet, LCD, RS232, GPIO
- Software: Windows XP, Timesys Linux 2.6, .NET