APEX Insight: One of the most popular stands at this week’s IATA Annual General Meeting was IATA’s booth promoting Inflight VR’s virtual reality headsets as a means to improve the passenger experience.
IATA teamed up with Munich-based Inflight VR to demonstrate its VR headsets to airlines this week during IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney, Australia. The unit was pre-loaded with movies, television programs and destination information, including sightseeing tours and shopping applications, in order to demonstrate a range of entertainment options and potential revenue-generating services to airlines.
Tim-Jasper Schaaf, IATA’s director of Marketing and Sales, said he has never before seen such a positive response to a product, with airline CEOs keen to test the headset during the show. Schaaf sees real potential for virtual reality in the in-flight environment and is hopeful that the demonstration could lead to further airline trials of the product this year. A white paper published by immersive headset company SkyLights in April 2018 referenced an independent study that claims 72% of passengers are willing to adopt VR in-flight entertainment.
Inflight VR has already been tested in Europe by a number of airlines, including Iberia, Volotea and Germania. Iberia recently announced further in-flight testing following successful trials at its Madrid passenger lounge and on flights between Madrid and Tel Aviv. Inflight VR was selected as one of seven finalists in Iberia and Vueling parent International Airlines Group’s latest Hangar 51 global start-up accelerator program.
Inflight VR is also working with Airbus through its Bizlab accelerator program, defining and building safety standards and guidelines on how VR can be used in-flight.
At the same time as the IATA AGM in Sydney, IATA was holding the inaugural Aviation Virtual and Augmented Reality Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. The event was designed to bring aviation industry stakeholders and VR/AR manufacturers and developers together to highlight the potential of VR/AR in a range of aviation applications, such as during training and to improve airline operations. A number of airlines, including American Airlines, Japan Airlines and KLM are already using VR to enhance training, while SITA and Helsinki Airport have successfully demonstrated its use in airport operations.