In the latest From The Top programme, where we talk to leaders of the top companies in aerospace and aviation, FINN sits down with David Bartlett, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Panasonic Avionics.

Bartlett told FINN that Panasonic is expanding its focus and strategy beyond connectivity to also encompass areas such as wellness, in line with a broader industry trend towards this.

He said: “What we’ve done very well is establish connectivity platforms and IFE (in-flight entertainment) platforms for entertainment. [Now it’s about] what can you do with that platform?”

Panasonic Avionics is looking at using the platforms as a foundation to serve content [related to areas such as] wellbeing, e-commerce, loyalty programmes and eSports, he said.

The fourth place

Bartlett talks about a concept called ‘the fourth place’.

He explained: “We have places in our life that we’re comfortable: the first place being the home, the second place being work, the third place [introduced as a concept by Ray Oldenburg, an urban sociologist, in 1989] is about places where we gather, whether it’s the park, library, pub or coffee shop.”

Starbucks’ CEO made a bid to position Starbucks as a “third place” for people.

“The concept of a fourth place is a convergence of the first three – especially when you think about travel trends, particularly with long-haul flights where we not only eat dinner, entertain and socialise, but also sleep,” Bartlett commented. “But to be the third place or fourth place, you have to be a place where people look forward to coming.”

A rallying cry

He continued: “We have embraced the concept of travel as the fourth place as a rallying cry to the industry about how we work together to remove the angst, friction and seams from travel.”

This ‘friction’ can include trying to locate a bag or sourcing a car or hotel, for example.

“There’s a lot we can do as an industry to anticipate [better through] predictive analytics,” Bartlett noted.

He said in the case of a flight cancellation, for example – in the ‘fourth place’ vision, the passenger’s replacement flight would already be rearranged.

“It’s a holistic approach to travel,” he said, rather than merely focusing on the in-flight experience. With this in mind, Bartlett calls on the industry to work as an ecosystem to make the fourth vision a reality.

What’s next at Panasonic?

Bartlett told FINN: “It’s an exciting time. I think we’re at the advent of defining the next generation of flight.”

At the Airport Interiors Expo in Hamburg recently, Panasonic announced several new advances in areas such as lighting and noise reduction to improve sleep as well as solutions to clean air in the cabin.

“It’s exciting to work with some of these technologies that are already out there in the field [and look at] how to apply them to this space. And that’s just the beginning,” he said.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter