Consumers continue to demonstrate hunger for the next clearest display, especially when engaging with their favorite content. Aviation has been criticized as a late adopter of new technologies, especially as it pertains to inflight entertainment. A strict regulatory environment and more conservative business climate can stymie innovation. But with inflight technology moving faster than ever, 4K has already moved in to displace its predecessor in the sky. By 2020, approximately half of U.S. households are expected to have 4K-capable TVs—an even faster adoption rate than HD, according to some estimates. Forward-thinking airlines are poised to be ahead of the curve.
4K has emerged as the Holy Grail of display technologies. But why? The name 4K, or Ultra High Definition (UHD), signifies that there are roughly four thousand pixels on the horizontal side of the screen, giving the display four times as high a resolution as 1080p, referred to as “Full High definition” according to technology website CNET.
Demand for 4K displays accelerating—everywhere
For the first time, 4K UHD TVs will make up half of all the total displays sold in 2018, with sales forecast to hit 22 million units (27% increase year-over-year) generating $15.9 billion in revenue (14% increase) according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Airline passengers are expecting an immersive in-home experience while traveling. “4K is the new HD, the baseline expectation, for any modern video experience,” says Andrew Mohr, Head of Innovation at Panasonic Avionics.
“4K enhances the viewing experience beyond the conventional watching of AVOD”
Head of Innovation at Panasonic Avionics
4K provides more than resolution
4K displays have higher color depth (e.g., 8-bit, 10-bit), which improves color and contrast and reduces the banding effect, sometimes noticeable in displays with lower color depth (e.g., 6-bit). The higher color depth also allows the monitor to display more colors more accurately (approx. 16.8 million for an 8-bit display and just over 1 billion for a 10-bit display vs. 262 thousand colors for a 6-bit display) and provide smoother transitions, further enhancing the viewing experience.
Opportunity driven by 4K
With many airlines having made the leap from SD to HD displays, investing in 4K now can provide a competitive advantage in the years to come. “4K is indisputably the standard of future media trends, as evidenced by services like Netflix and iTunes, and devices like the new 4K Apple TV ” says Mohr. “Successful IFE planning is always about what’s important both today and 3-7 years from now.”
Providing a seamless, world-class experience in the cabin has its own benefits. Airlines looking to engage passengers with their own curated content—especially tailored advertising messages—a crisp, sharp seatback display will encourage more passengers to engage more with content. And, a recent SITA study cited by the Airline Passenger Experience Association, suggests that great entertainment reduces stress among passengers, letting them become more immersed in the experience and less focused on the stress of travel.
“4K enhances the viewing experience beyond the conventional watching of AVOD,” says Mohr. “Whether the passenger is browsing the interactive screens, viewing a moving map, shopping, or any other applications, 4K resolution provides a level of detail that the average passenger has become used to through the other screens in their life—whether it’s their phone, a tablet or their home TV.”
In the end, passengers want one thing: A great flying experience. Inflight entertainment innovations, such as high-definition screens and immersive content, can make sure every moment of a passenger’s journey brings a smile to their face.