Imagine instead of suffering in a middle seat on a 6-hour flight you are running through the streets of GTA 5 or sitting back on the sandy beaches of Hawaii, watching the waves crash and palm trees sway. That is what in-flight technology company Gogo is looking into for future inflight entertainment uses of head-mounted displays (HMDs).
We have covered in the past how Qantas has started a pilot program to provide Samsung Gear VR headsets to first-class passengers. We can only expect that other airlines are currently researching or developing similar programs as well.
Chicago-based Gogo thinks the future of airplane entertainment could come from a headset like Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR and released a whitepaper last month on the growing interest from airlines.
“As the leading global provider of in-flight streaming entertainment, Gogo is paying close attention to the evolution of HMD’s (head mounted displays), and continues to test new systems against our entertainment product,” wrote Communications Manager Scott Carmichael in the report.
The study looks into a few headset devices like the Oculus Rift DK2, Sony HMZ-T3W, Epson Moverio, Zeiss Cinemizer, and Samsung Gear VR. The whitepaper covers the topics of practical considerations (size, weight, and cabling) as well as battery life, safety issues, and content acquisition.
Carmichael reports that the most comfortable unit tested inflight was the Samsung Gear VR because of its lack of cables, but the downside included heat buildup, a slight learning curve, large storage case and limited battery life. The recently announced refresh for the Samsung Gear VR Galaxy S6 features an integrated cooling fan, which should solve some of these concerns.
Concern over inflight safety when playing locally stored content, which could keep passengers from receiving cabin notifications, may be tricky. Possible solutions for these safety issues mentioned include implementing a PA intercept on playback sources or software that allows a third party to control playback on a personal electronic device (PED).
The report was designed to look at the potential benefits and challenges of in-flight virtual reality as an informative starting point for the airline industry. Industry specific research like this is definitely a welcome contribution.
You can download the full report here.
Images via Gogo