Now you can get away while you get away. In an industry first, Qantas Airways teamed up with Samsung to offer in-flight virtual reality.
Gear VR was developed by Samsung and VR titan Oculus: It’s an immersive headset driven by the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Qantas is rolling out Samsung Gear VR in its SYD and MEL first-class lounges in February 2015, and then in the first-class cabins of some of its LAX-bound A380 flights the following month.
Seeing is Believing
Early content will include immersive walk-throughs of Qantas’ luxury lounges, so you could hang out in the LAX First-Class lounge 13 hours before you hang out in the LAX First-Class lounge.
Aside from offering immersive destination previews, Qantas will also present up-close footage of its fleet in action.
This isn’t just a branding opportunity for a company, but also for a country. Qantas is also poised to show off Australia’s striking natural beauty. “We are open to working with tourism groups to develop content for the program,” said Sarah Algar, senior adviser of Corporate Communications. “Tourism NT is the first group we have worked with.”
The Gear VR rollout will last for three months, after which Qantas will assess how its passengers are responding to the experience.
In Qantas’ Gear VR press release, Adam Giles, Northern Territory’s Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism, said: “This innovation literally adds a new dimension to how visitors experience Kakadu. Tourism NT is delighted to pilot this new technology as part of its suite of marketing projects utilizing new, industry leading technology, and what better way to demonstrate the impact this VR technology can have than by showcasing Kakadu, one of the world’s most iconic ‘must do’ tourism destinations.”
The Gear VR rollout will last for three months, after which Qantas will assess how its passengers are responding to the experience. So far, said Algar, there is not plan to do any time-travel content; for example, to immerse yourself in the SYD First-Class lounge of, say, 1978.
Qantas is very early to the game here, since even Samsung and Oculus themselves are not quite declaring their creation to be ready for prime-time. Samsung is pitching Gear VR as a device for “innovative consumers, specifically VR enthusiasts, developers, mobile experts and professionals, and early technology adopters.” With the mobile software development kit (SDK), Oculus implores you to build your own worlds.
(Qantas was also an early adopter of airplanes. Founded as the Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services in 1921, Qantas is the second-oldest airline in operation behind KLM.)
If you want to get your TRON on without flying across the Pacific, you’re in luck: you can buy Samsung Gear VR for around two hundred bucks from stores such as Best Buy.