Spanish Carrier Iberia Launches In-Flight Virtual Reality Entertainment

Forbes

Spain's national carrier Iberia Airlines is piloting a new form of in-flight entertainment that employs virtual reality headsets. The new solution comes through European-based Inflight VR, a startup that aims to bring virtual reality headsets onto aircraft as a replacement or augment to current entertainment systems.


In a released shared late last week, Iberia and Inflight shared that they were launching a trial of the technology on two daily routes between Madrid and New York City as well as another daily route between Madrid and Tel Aviv. Inflight's Pico VR headsets will be available for a rental fee of 6€ for all passengers on the widebody aircraft serving the destinations.



All told, Inflight will deploy 21 VR headsets on each flight to New York and another 12 on flights to Tel Aviv. Crews won't be trained on how to use the headsets, but each unit will have instructions for passengers on how to wear and operate the device.


In terms of content, Inflight suggests that passengers will be allowed to browse across a variety of features inside of the headset including 3D and 360° games, films, city travelogues and documentaries. With that said, Iberia's current in-flight entertainment systems will not be loaded onto the headsets. According to Nikolas Jaeger, Inflight's CEO, the pilot's current focus "is on 360 VR content," though he added that "in future it is a possibility that we add all movies in the IFE also in the VR headsets."



The pilot test on routes to New York City and Tel Aviv will run for six months starting this month. After that, the group will decide on formal pricing and whether or not to expand the service to a wider spectrum of flights across Iberia's network.


It may be a tough sell. In the past, airlines have been reluctant to introduce third-party, free-standing entertainment solutions on aircraft because of complications around margins, handling hardware and safety. The additional revenue brought in by rentals (126€ per flight per direction in the above pilot) also needs to be justified by any costs associated with maintaining the headsets and the additional weight brought on board. Passengers, too, will need to overcome any trepidation around wearing a VR headset in public and disconnecting from the activity in the aircraft cabin – though for some that may be a benefit.



Still, Inflight and Iberia get credit for taking an early approach to next-generation in flight entertainment. And like a similar relationship between Alaska Airlines and Skylights VR, the early tests should indicate just how ready the traveling public is for virtual reality on airplanes.

阅读原文