Posted on: 06 May 2015 by Mark Howells
Gogo has released a whitepaper addressing the rising interest in developing virtual reality solutions for head mounted display (HMD) technology and exploring its potential for adoption by the in-flight entertainment (IFE) industry.
The author of Gogo’s whitepaper, Scott Carmichael, acknowledges that there is a substantial buzz around the technology and how it could revolutionise future IFE offerings. He explains the systems offer "a personal immersive entertainment experience not available with PED’s or backseat systems," "the ability to enjoy content in any seat position, including lie-flat" and "a private 'viewing room' to watch any kind of content without worrying about onlookers."
Spurned on by the success of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, companies are keen to capitalise on the fast-moving development of such technology, he continues.
“Current head mounted display systems use LCD, OLED or AMOLED displays inside a head mounted unit. New developments from Google, Samsung, LG and Oculus VR use a smartphone as the display,” notes Carmichael.
Several of these devices were recently on show at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg and were discussed at the Passenger Experience Conference. However, Carmichael says they rely on other technology to operate, such as "an on-board streaming video service [with] suitable 2D or 3D content available on the server."
So while the potential for such technology to develop and transform our travelling lives is more than apparent, there are basic hurdles to manage. Not least of these is an individual’s response to wearing such technology when it comes to motion sickness or spatial discomfort, something Inflight experienced, albeit momentarily, while trying such devices at AIX 2015.
Carmichael expands on these considerations: “Several HMD systems are possibly suitable for in-flight use but many come with significant trade-offs that could make for a negative passenger experience. Basic issues like poor battery life, complicated controls and complex cables mean a public roll-out of HMDs for in-air use is not easy to implement.”
Carmichael also notes, “Since HMDs contain fragile displays and glass lenses, the included protective cases are highly recommended. Sadly, this often greatly increases the size of the system, often to well beyond what is practical for in-air use,” also noting the fact that hygiene could be an issue with rented or borrowed HMDs.
“Based on the number of head mounted display systems currently available and under development, the concept definitely feels like it is here to stay,” Carmicheal concludes. “Whether systems become more popular for virtual reality, gaming or day to day content consumption remains to be seen.”