Image via Emirates

APEX Insight: Emirates and Etihad are the latest airlines to announce trials of SkyLights’ virtual reality headset in its lounges. The winner of the 2016 APEX Newcomer of the Year Award’s primary goal is to deploy its immersive cinematic experience in flight.

Travelers flying with Emirates and Etihad this spring will have the opportunity to try SkyLights’ Bravo Evo virtual reality (VR) headset at select lounges. Etihad is testing the immersive cinematic experience at its first- and business-class lounges at Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal 3 during the month of April, while Emirates is offering the technology in Dubai International Airport’s Concourse B – in its business-class lounge in April and in its first-class lounge in May. SkyTeam conducted a similar trial in its Dubai lounge at the end of last year.

The headsets, which can store up to 40 high-definition films, will be loaded with 2-D and 3-D content, plus 5 VR titles. Weighing 120g and with a battery life of six hours, the device is designed to be worn comfortably for several hours. 

“Our primary goal is to deploy in flight.” – David Dicko, SkyLights CEO

“Our primary goal is to deploy in flight,” David Dicko, SkyLights CEO, told APEX Media. “For major airlines that want to be sure the service is a fit with their premium guests on the ground first, the lounge is a step towards our in-flight ambitions.” 

The service is complimentary and Emirates plans to roll out the experience across all its lounges in Dubai if the trial is well received, but the cabin is where cinematic VR entertainment has the highest added value, according to Dicko. “Space is restricted, current IFE falls short of heightened entertainment expectations shaped by advancements on the ground and, at the same time, airlines are looking for more flexible IFE solutions that will differentiate their offering and foster customer loyalty,” he explained. “Our solution is tailored to do all of these things.”

SkyLights’ headsets have been tested in flight and received positive feedback. In January, a selection of more than 30 titles, including 180- and 360-degree VR videos and 3-D films, was made available to a delegation of VIP guests traveling on a Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787-8. “Customers who experienced the VR videos praised the content, and we did not have any problems, such as VR sickness,” said Noboru Hirai, VP of Sales at JAL. Air France also conducted a trial for business-class passengers on flights between Paris and St. Martin in August of last year.

SkyLights will be at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg next week, where it plans to announce a major new partner. Attendees who stop by the booth will be able to demo the Allosky headset, which was unveiled at APEX EXPO in September and gain first access to SkyLights’ white paper, “Virtual Reality IFE – Opportunities & Obstacles Addressed.”