Android Takes Flight With Panasonic's New In-Flight Entertainment System

When it comes to in-flight entertainment these days, quite a few airlines give their passengers the option to watch live TV on domestic flights and on-demand videos and a few games on international trips. Even the most advanced systems on the market today, though, only scratch the surface of what these systems could do if you coupled them with an Internet connection, touchscreen and a decent operating system. Panasonic today announced just such a system. The new eX3 in-flight entertainment system is based on Google’s Android operating system, offers a highly customizable touchscreen interface and offers an Internet connection as well as the ability for airlines to develop their own apps on top of it. Whether this system will ever take flight, of course, remains to be seen.

Panasonic envisions that airlines could offer their customers a personalized experience on this system that would allow them to set their own preferences (weather, news sources, Twitter feeds, Facebook etc.) once and then get the same experience every time they get on one of the airlines’ planes. The company’s executive director of corporate sales product management Neil James likens the new system to a “home theater environment” that – unlike most of the in-flight entertainment systems on the market today – is focused on aesthetics and connectivity.

According to Panasonic, the turnaround from creating an in-flight entertainment package today (movies, TV shows etc.) has generally been around 45 days. With an Internet-connected system, that turnaround time will be close to zero and allow for a far more interesting in-flight entertainment experience than today’s rather stale systems.

Of course, given the state of the airline industry in the U.S., I don’t expect we will see these systems on domestic flights anytime soon (and when we do, we’ll likely have to swipe a credit card to actually use it). After all, just having WiFi access on a plane is sadly still a luxury on too many airlines today…

Panasonic eX3 promo video