Fast, light and cheap. That’s the sort of combination which airlines should love and one which in-flight entertainment provider Lumexis hoped to capitalize on over the past decade as it developed a series of in-seat entertainment systems. The company saw limited success, signing deals with flyDubai, Lion Air, Transaero and Caribbean Airlines, plus trials on other carriers. Alas, it was simply not enough. The company suspended most business operations in late June (first reported on RGN Premium, currently more widely discussed) and is now working to find an acquirer for its assets.
The Lumexis approach to the market differed from industry stalwarts Panasonic Avionics and Thales in that Lumexis used fiber optics for moving data between the seats and the head-end computer rather than copper wiring (Fiber To The Seat, or FTTS) . The company touted this as a lighter weight and more scalable solution speed-wise. Former VP Jon Norris showed off the FTTS v4 kit most recently at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, calling attention to the responsiveness and flexibility of the kit.
Lumexis was also an early player in the “second screen” space, offering passengers the ability to consume content on their own device in addition to the in-seat screen. That includes games, moving maps, news and – perhaps most important to the airlines – full e-commerce integration with meal/menu and duty free ordering systems. The ability to directly generate revenue off the system was a key selling point. Caribbean Airlines’ deal was to include that functionality when installs began.
The moving map from FlightPath 3D integrated into the latest version of Lumexis’ solution also featured potential for e-commerce, with the ability to add points of interest to the map, giving travelers “top 10” lists or other sponsored content as appropriate. Said Norris in April, “[T]his really opens the doors in terms of the potential of having ancillary revenue driven through sponsored POIs. Top 10 hotels, top 10 restaurants, etc. we can scroll through what we are going to do.”
The company had realized line-fit certification from Boeing for the 737NG and 737 MAX product lines. That’s no small feat (nor is it a small expense) but having such certification is useful when it comes to signing customer orders. Lumexis was less successful in negotiating such with Airbus, though it was fighting that battle to the bitter end. The certification may have helped in securing deals but it was insufficient in the end.
Lumexis’ FTTS was one of a couple challengers to the duopoly of Thales and Panasonic Avionics. Arguably it pushed those vendors to improve their products and in that context passengers no doubt realized value from it, even if the company ultimately did not succeed. Both Thales and Panasonic are also running Android-based solutions now and product update cycles continue to improve. Still, it is somewhat sad to see the plucky, small upstart eventually succumb to the size and scale that the legacy operators deliver. Then again, that seems to be the way the aviation industry works more often than not. Lumexis produced good products (I actually got to use it on flyDubai once) and helped the industry evolve. That era is now over.
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