.Today passengers require all sorts of infotainment services on-board a train. With smartphones and tablets in use all over the world, it makes sense to provide on-board services directly to these devices.
Many years ago almost all of these on-board services were provided via a screen in the seat. This solution was good in those days, but soon the operators understood that the seats became very expensive, and the reliability was not always good. Maintenance was expensive, and therefore it was an obvious choice to provide on-board infotainment services directly to passenger's own devices. With Vision Systems new i-Comfort solution, you can quickly and easily bring a huge amount of services to the fingertops of your passenegers and their own smartphones, tablets or laptops.
If you want to have a quick overview of this solution, watch this YouTube video.
With the i-Comfort on-board infotainment solution you can have the following services offered:
magazines, newspapers and books in electronic formats
on-board snack- or restaurant offerings/menus
Even if todays’ solutions offer these services, there are some differences in the background systems. First of all you need to look at the type of connection needed. There are three ways to go:
external internet connection available all the time
only local content on-board which is available to passengers (no external internet access)
both local content availability and external internet connection for outside content
The challenge with option #1 is that passengers need to rely 100 % on the available of an internet connection. For example if you want to have this option in a metro tunnel network, it might be very expensive to build such a network with 100 % coverage all the time. Another drawback might be that the bandwidth is not enough.
In option #2 we have the possibility of getting at every train/bus stop updated information, which makes the content almost fresh. The good thing is that the investment in the equipment can be kept quite low, and the passengers can be served a very fast on board “internal” WiFi network.
Option #3 is the hybrid of the two previous versions. This option, if configured cleverly, can serve passengers very well. Today you can find this hybrid solution on the market, and this will be explained in more detail below.
In a moving train - if the speed is +200 km/h - the challenge of getting a good internet connection is everything. In this solution the system automatically searches for the best possible and available connection and service provider. Therefore the infotainment system needs to be able to always optimize the external internet connection, without the passenger noticing it. This means the system supports 3G/4G/satellite connections, and at the stops even local WiFi connection. And to make things sometimes even more complicated, you have trains crossing borders and therefore switching operators.
The local content which resides on the on-board server, is typically divided into two update categories:
Content which needs to be updated all the time (like traffic information, delays, journey information etc.)
Content (like restaurant menus, advertisement, general information etc.) that needs only to be updated e.g. once per day.
The solution Amaronia is proposing is the i-Comfort solution from Vision Systems. This solution is based on a so called “Master” and “Slave” concept on-board. The Master is the content server and has all the intelligence for the network services, when again the Slave box is there to support the passenger devices (max. 80 devices per box).