At last month’s AEA show, Ingenio Aerospace introduced a series of products designed to help aircraft manufacturers and interior refurb and completion centers deal with a thorny problem: the rapid pace of smart-device technological change.
Some companies have been installing and certifying aircraft with built-in smartphone connectors, usually for Apple iPods and iPhones. But during its last round of upgrades, Apple changed from the earlier models’ 30-pin connector to the smaller Lightning connector. In the Gulfstream G650, for example, built-in 30-pin iPod receptacles in the cabin hold the iPod touch devices used for cabin management. While a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter can make the connection, the receptacle is more difficult to use than its designers intended.
Ingenio’s solution is simple and elegant: replace the connector with a USB-based receptacle into which various smartphone or tablet arms can be attached. Ingenio offers attractively designed arms that simply plug into the USB-based receptacle. The arms, which can handle as much as 250 pounds in case a passenger uses one for leverage, offer charging too. Devices fit into an Ingenio SmartPlate, which holds the smartphone or tablet securely and also contains the connector that fits the device. If the device manufacturer changes the connector, all the aircraft needs is a new SmartPlate. Currently Ingenio makes SmartPlates for the Apple 30-pin and Lightning connectors, Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Google Nexus 7 and 10 tablets and Amazon Kindle Fire.
The Ingenio system makes it easy to install multiple receptacles almost anywhere in the cabin or cockpit. An aircraft could carry, say, four Ingenio arms in the cabin, and passengers could plug them into any available receptacle. The arms are classified as loose items and don’t require certification; only the receptacle requires an STC. The shorter cockpit arm has been tested to 24 g and includes shear bolts that break off in case of an accident.
“We created the plug-ins to create functionality in the cabin and cockpit,” said Ingenio president James Bell, “to make it easier for pilots and customers to use their products. We’re trying to create something super-flexible for operators and clients.”
Ingenio also makes tiny USB power supplies and USB extenders that can deliver reliable power up to 150 feet for large-cabin installations.