Bluebox Avionics has announced it is bringing its wireless inflight entertainment system to the Apple iPad, marking perhaps the first time that iPads are being repurposed as a service offering. Bluebox’s IFE services leverage wireless technologies to provide entertainment in airline cabins: once planes are set up with the hardware, carriers can install seat-back systems or rent out wireless handheld devices for the duration of the flight—and Bluebox offers a range of movie and music options that aren’t always available commercially, since they get early-window access to some films and content.
“We are always looking for suitable COTS devices to add to the Bluebox portable line-up and the iPad fitted our requirements very well,” said Bluebox CTO Murray Skelton, in a statement. “The conversion of our PC based Bluebox operating system has been very smooth and we are very pleased with the added capability to our proposition that the iPad brings.”
Bluebox says it has ported its PC-based operating system and security software to the iPad as apps, meaning Bluebox AI users will be able to use the devices to tap into their system’s custom entertainment options, as well as the full range of applications, games, ebooks, and content available from the iTunes App Store. Bluebox also apparently plans to load up the iPads with consumer magazines via Zinio. Airlines will also have the option of making their own custom apps.
There’s no word on what it’ll cost to put an iPad in your hands for the duration of a flight, but don’t expect it to be cheap: Bluebox traditionally targets long-haul international flights, and by the time you’ve paid for a ticket, the cost of cuddling up with an iPad will be negligible. Bluebox says that Bluebox Ai will be launching with a major international carrier in July, with other airlines set to follow shortly after.