This article originally appeared in the APEX EXPO Daily Experience – Day Two.
APEX Insight: For Inflight VR, virtual reality is more than a novel technology. The Munich-based startup believes it can enhance the onboard experience and future passengers will regard VR headsets like any other airline amenity, preferring flights that offer the service. “This is what we believe is going to be a major factor in passengers picking which flight they want to take,” says co-founder Christoph Fleischmann.
The founders of Inflight VR believe so strongly that virtual reality will become a key part of the passenger experience they’ve named the company after the concept. Along with amenities like in-flight Wi-Fi and in-seat power, they’re betting future passengers will want to know whether their flight has virtual reality headsets before booking a seat.
“Virtual reality can completely transform you. It sends you away into a new world where you can take a walk and listen to music,” says Christoph Fleischmann, co-founder of Inflight VR. “This is what we believe is going to be a major factor in passengers picking which flight they want to take.”
The Munich-based startup, which also has locations in Spain and Pakistan, has tested prototypes of virtual reality technology where passengers can tour far-flung destinations, watch the latest blockbuster inside a cinema, rotate duty-free products for multiple views, or play a leisurely game of chess while seated in a comfy armchair – all without leaving their airplane seats.
“This is what we believe is going to be a major factor in passengers picking which flight they want to take.” – Christoph Fleischmann, Inflight VR
It’s a concept Qantas invited its first class passengers flying between Australia and Los Angeles or passing through its Sydney or Melbourne lounges to try, on Samsung Gear VR headsets that enabled them to both travel to Hamilton Island for a dive into The Great Barrier Reef and view duty-free products in 360°. Courtney Teak, senior advisor, Corporate Communication at Qantas said the feedback has been positive and has impressed 3-D filmmakers and kids alike.
Marriott Hotels treated the virtual travel experience as a special “VRoom Service” that could be ordered up and hand delivered in a suitcase by a bellhop. Guests had 24 hours to virtually experience three different travel stories to either the Andes Mountains in Chile, an ice cream shop in Rwanda or the bustling streets of Beijing, from the comfort of their hotel rooms.
“Obviously, the main difference is the immersion,” says Nikolas Jaeger, CEO and co-founder of Inflight VR. “That you’re not going to be staring at the screen, but be actually inside the game or the 3-D environment.”
SITA OnAir is also betting on in-flight VR: “In-flight entertainment is set to benefit from the boom in wearable technology, with head-mounted displays capable of giving passengers a new level of tailored, unique and awe-inspiring content,” says François Rodriguez, the company’s chief strategy and marketing officer.
Don’t miss Nikolas Jaeger, CEO and co-founder of Inflight VR, on the Virtual Reality panel at this month’s APEX TECH in Newport Beach, California.