NBAA Convention News

Innovative Advantage's Channel Tracker Upgrades Cabin Video to High-def

 - October 10, 2002, 9:30 AM

The new Channel Tracker from Innovative Advantage (Booth No. N3229) is all about making something older new again in an existing cabin entertainment system.

“Everyone is asking if there is way to upgrade their customers’ aircraft to high-definition without tearing up the interior and putting in a brand-new system,” said Richard Morris, president of the Redmond, Wash. company. After extensive in-flight tests on a Gulfstream, the answer is Channel Tracker and it is available now.

In its simplest form, Channel Tracker is an electronic card or series of cards that fit into a slot of the audiovisual display system (AVDS) node and connect to the existing cabin management system video switch. In the test aircraft, the existing video sources and a new Blu-ray player were connected to the AVDS video inputs and three new high-definition (HD) monitors were connected to the AVDS outputs. When the DVD was selected at each location with video control, the HD Blu-ray was routed to the appropriate monitor, explained Morris. Likewise, when Map was selected, the HD (VGA) signal was routed. The AVDS simply followed the video selections via the Channel Tracker card. Morris emphasized that there were no modifications to the existing CMS.

The workings are relatively simple. The Channel Tracker card outputs test signals to the existing video switch and then monitors the outputs to determine which source has been selected. The AVDS is then configured as a slave and follows the source selection.

AVDS provides HD audiovisual switching over fiber optics around the aircraft cabin and supports 1080p, HD-SDI, DVI-D, component, composite and VGA signals, as well as digital audio, Dolby, digital DTS pass-through and analog audio. The result, said Morris, “is uncompromised video available at every monitor on the aircraft.”

The AVDS distributed-network, he explained, provides “unsurpassed video quality” using a fault-tolerant network and eliminates single-point failure. Further, fiber-optic connections mean less wiring, less weight and no compression artifacts or lip-sync issues.

A single-card box costs approximately $14,000 and a multiple-card box runs up to about $20,000.

“It’s the perfect way of upgrading older systems in which there’s no way to get a vendor to make hardware or software upgrades,” said Dave Garing, v-p of business development. “There are no carved-up drink rails or panels to be ripped out. Put simply,” he said, “if you have an existing system that’s so old or so dumb that nothing else will work, Channel Tracker will.”

Buyers should be aware, however, that true high-definition is dependent on HD end-to-end; that means an HD Blu-ray player and Blu-ray disks at the source, Channel Tracker in the middle, and HD monitors at the display end.