Passengers lucky enough to be traveling first class will be treated to their own, personal VR cinema in the sky
Gone are the days of having to watch movies on your laptop or smartphone for inflight entertainment. British Airways is set to run a trial for VR headsets on selected first class flights, from London Heathrow Airport, to New York JFK. Those lucky enough to be seated in first class will be greeted with their own, personal VR headset for the duration of the almost eight hour flight.
The headsets are supplied by SkyLights, a company specialised in bringing virtual reality entertainment to airlines across the world. British Airways aren’t the first to turn to VR, with Qantas Airways holding the record for the introduction in 2015. Alaskan Airlines have also tested out VR headsets in 2018.
These devices are capable of showcasing movies and documentaries in 2D, 3D, and 360 degree formats. Currently, entertainment options are limited to just two five-minute animations for children, and three 11-37 minute stories geared towards adults. At the end of August 2019, 13 full-length movies will be added to the system, twelve of which can be watched in 3D. Five documentaries will also be showcased, however, those will only be screened in 2D.
Regular movies and documentaries aside, passengers will also be able to enjoy a range of therapeutic VR experiences. These include sound therapy and guided meditation, which have been specifically designed for people who suffer from anxiety when flying.
In terms of general use, VR headsets are not just there to keep us entertained for a couple of hours. They have valuable, real-world uses too. Due to a focus on immersive properties, the technology is perfectly suited to provide users with safe access to things like Exposure Therapy too. Those suffering from arachnophobia, a fear of public speaking, or even PTSD, for example, can make full use of the technology. If used correctly, this technology has the potential to help millions of people in a significant way.
With such a wide array of uses, it’s safe to say VR should not be written off as a simple trope. It has the ability to completely transport users to another world, help people overcome their deepest fears, and of course, keep flight passengers entertained for hours. The future is looking bright for VR entertainment, both on the ground and high in the sky.