Snapdragon Takes Flight! Mobile Chipsets Power In-Flight Media

Modern travelers have become accustomed to the availability of seat-back entertainment on domestic and international flights. What once was a rare luxury has now become standard, and like other media and entertainment devices, has become subject to ever-increasing expectations of performance.Snapdragon Takes Flight – How Mobile Chipsets Power In-Flight Media

High definition video, a durable touchscreen with low input lag, and in some cases the ability to mirror or play media from a traveler’s own collection has now become the expectation. Providers must manage wireless and wired media distribution both within the aircraft’s network as well as between their device and the customer’s media devices, all while maintaining the integrity and safety of mass market films and music. Chipsets like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, architected from the ground up with media and streaming in mind, are helping power the continued improvement in this market.

First and foremost on the mind of anyone designing equipment for use in aircraft is reliability and durability, followed closely by strict emissions control for wireless performance. Mobile chipsets are designed for use in handsets that will inevitably be dropped, subjected to moisture, and experience challenging thermal environments, and this makes them particularly suitable for use in aircraft interiors with minimal special considerations.

In addition to fully-integrated custom designs, ruggedness and vibration tolerance can be achieved while using solder-down Systems on Modules (SOMs) like the Inforce 6603 Nano SOM, which allows for greater flexibility while maintaining an aggressive schedule. SOMs like this have been designed with durability and wireless performance in mind, making compliance with DO-160 specifications less difficult, in turn allowing for system designers to spend more time on software considerations.

DRM

Before copyrighted media like major motion pictures and music can be deployed on a networked system, licensing terms require strict control over the entire software pipeline to prevent potential piracy or misuse. Luckily, Android pairs perfectly with the Widevine Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme, which is supported by almost all portable media consuming devices, and is approved for encryption and streaming of protected media content. Together with HDCP encryption to protect any connections over HDMI displays, Widevine provides a complete end-to-end solution. In order for a DRM solution like Widevine and HDCP to be implemented and safe, licenses must be procured and device security policies must be correctly set up. Therefore, it is important when designing such a system to choose a design partner who has these licenses in place and has experience deploying them in commercial products.

With hardware and security concerns accounted for, it is important not to forget the importance of media storage and streaming performance on a crowded network. HEVC is the most efficient codec for high definition video and is fully compatible with video encryption technologies. It is therefore useful to select a chipset that supports hardware decoding of the H.265/HEVC codec. Higher efficiency in the codec means lower bandwidth usage for each stream, and that translates to better performance for the potentially hundreds of passengers all simultaneously consuming media from the network.

As consumer expectations evolve, it may soon become necessary to support higher video resolutions, faster network standards, and new encryption schemes.

Design partners like SMART Wireless Computing make it simple to stay at the cutting edge by providing integrated hardware and software systems with support for the latest encryption and networking standards, apart from longlife guarantee.

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Keith Fleer

Field Application Sales Engineer at SMART Modular Technologies

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