What’s NEXT?

Shaking up the future of inflight entertainment.


  • Client
  • Industry
  • Services
    UX Design, Prototyping

In an economy where marketers are dashing to deliver more personalized consumer experiences, the in-flight entertainment industry is still taxiing its wheels. Airlines have been slow to adopt the rich digital experiences that consumers have come to expect on the ground. It’s a huge opportunity to differentiate—especially in an industry where not much more than price is dictating brand loyalty.

To disrupt and innovate, Smart created NEXT—an experimental, highly personalized in-flight entertainment platform that meets the rising expectations consumers have of their personal devices while providing new revenue streams in a highly competitive market.

Part magazine. Part entertainment system. All you.

NEXT has been described as a cross between a personalized in-flight magazine and an in-flight entertainment system. Instead of giving passengers an overwhelming menu of standard options, everything about NEXT—from the movies, music and editorial content it offers to the dining and duty-free shopping choices, has already been curated for each passenger.

It’s all about the data.

During our research, Smart learned that airlines weren’t fully taking advantage of the huge amount of customer data they collect. What you tend to watch, listen to or buy—it’s all a reflection of you. The NEXT system, which can be paired with a seatback screen, automatically knows who you are, where you’re headed and what you enjoy—and pushes personalized content throughout your journey, from pre-boarding to deplaning.

Taking personalization and partnerships sky high.

The NEXT concept features strategic partnerships with companies like Netflix and Spotify, to deliver the kinds of rich onboard media experiences that passengers already enjoy day-to-day. Peruse a free personalized library powered by Amazon or book an OpenTable restaurant in your destination city, for example. These third-party partnerships can not only keep customers happy but generate new revenue streams by upselling new experiences, merchandise and products.

There’s a lot of value in offering [passengers] more personalized experiences to help them feel special, rather than just one of the masses. In the experience economy one size doesn’t fit all. NEXT is our vision for a better, more personalized future for travelers.

Heather Martin
Smart VP, Design

Seizing the skies.

Smart debuted the NEXT prototype at Future Travel Experience Global in Las Vegas in 2016, where it received an overwhelmingly positive response. We’re currently talking with potential partners to see how we might bring the concept to the masses.