APEXEXPO2019: Touch Inflight Solutions and castLabs form JV ABOVE

Touch Inflight Solutions and castLabs have announced a joint venture, ABOVE, aiming to solve complexities and inefficiencies around delivering IFE content and reduce the content delivery timeline.

ABOVE is an open, standards-based platform for the encoding, storage and distribution of encoded video and related metadata through cloud-based services. The system leverages best practices already utilised in the over-the-top (OTT) market.

Ronny Katz, chief strategy and business development officer told Inflight at the APEX EXPO: “People want relevant content” pointing out that with social media, people are used to being up-to-date. He noted that airlines also want a more engaging experience for passengers, and so ABOVE aims to enable ‘next day’ content deliveries.

The platform is built on concepts tested and adopted over the last four years with Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect and over the last 18 months, Touch has leveraged components of the ABOVE platform to successfully deliver thousands of files to other IFE systems, including Panasonic, Thales and Gogo.

Katz pointed out, “This is not new companies with a new idea, we’re exposing to the industry what we’ve been doing. We’ve grown expertise and been collaborating with Lufthansa Systems and now we want to open it up to the market and plan to expand features.”

He adds however that they are just links in the ecosystem and he encourages development across the ecosystem, suggesting stakeholders should “use the platform and see if it works for you.”

“ABOVE will not only reduce costs and complexity, facilitate automation with improved best-in-class security but enable “next day” content deliveries to aircraft worldwide,” noted Michael Childers, APEX chair and Lufthansa Systems Chief Consultant.

When fully launched, the platform will be able to orchestrate complex content processing, approval and delivery workflows while being architected to evolve and increase efficiencies and functionality over time.

“Touch and castLabs’ partnership brings together industry relationships, deep knowledge and experience of the ecosystems, from content to IFE and cloud-based digital video processing. castLabs’ understanding and proficiency of working in the cloud, including expertise in content processing, content protection and playback, with mature commercial products in the market trusted by studios and large content services worldwide is complementary to the perspective Touch’s team has on content and it’s entire value chain, from licensors through the entire IFE supply chain to licensees. These synergies provide a strong foundation to develop leading solutions for the industry.” says Michael Stattmann, Founder of castLabs.

In order to support clients in secure handling of content, ABOVE will provide flexible transcoding workflows with automatic quality control for all commonly used IFE systems, which castLabs said will enable quick over-the-air content updates based on market needs and ability to react to user data and analytics.

“The evolution and hands on experience with castLabs serving Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect over the past few years, including premium catalog content from three major Hollywood Studios along additional content for all other major IFE systems, has brought into strong and impossible to ignore clarity the efficiencies and the drastic cost and timeline reductions that a platform like ABOVE can bring to the whole industry including distributors, labs, hardware providers, airlines and other CSPs. In addition ABOVE will help facilitate dynamic content curation and updates as well as deliver advertising content in line with the ads’ own cycles” commented Joe Carreira, Touch’s founder and managing director.

Talking to Inflight at the APEX EXPO, Katz commented: “It’s not ‘We’re done’, we are just getting started. We’ve been at this for a long time and we want to onboard and do more.”

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