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Students want to SERVE passengers with VR headset concept

‘The Gunners,’ a group of students from German-Jordanian University, have reached the second round of the Airbus ‘Fly Your Ideas’ competition with SERVE, the concept for a virtual reality (VR) headset which connects wirelessly to noise-cancelling earbuds.The Gunners consist of team leader Qussai Masharqa, who studies Mechanical Engineering alongside teammate Obadah Yaghi; Osama Deeb, studying Mechatronics Engineering; and Abdul Rahman Al-Shawakri, who studies Communication Engineering.

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ttttFrom left to right: Abdul RahmanAl-Shawakri, Qussai Masharqa, Osama Deeb and Obadah Yaghi

When Inflight-Online.com asked the team how they came up with the idea for SERVE, they said they initially wanted to look at a different concept. “We had the idea of serving passengers using robots instead of flight attendants,” explained Masharqa. “Our Airbus mentor didn’t like it. He said passengers enjoy talking to flight attendants and having that human experience; that they like talking to people instead of machines. He wanted us to face the problems people currently face in the cabin, such as noise.”How does SERVE do this? “The earbuds stop passengers suffering as a result of ambient noise in-flight. For example, many passengers find it stressful when babies and children are crying. Other passengers don’t like it when they can’t properly hear instructions from the pilot or flight attendants because of engine noise. SERVE is about privacy,” Masharqa said. “I’ve flown a lot between Jordan, the UAE and Germany, and I don’t like overhearing other people’s conversations.”The VR element of the team’s entry, on the other hand, is primarily for entertainment. “It provides a full HD picture which is much higher quality than the traditional seat-back screen. I watch lots of films in-flight, but for some reason I never end up liking any of them – even though some are really good – because the resolution is so bad!” admits Masharqa.The defining concept of SERVE is that it can be connected to cameras mounted on the outer body of the aircraft, so passengers can enjoy the view outside and feel like they’re flying.However, this presented a very specific challenge. “The technologies are already there on the ground, we just had to move them to the sky,” Masharqa told Inflight-Online.com. The team said they would use Oculus rift for the headset and a specialist camera with a 170 degree viewing angle outside the aircraft, with seven or eight cameras across the body depending on its size.“We faced problems that already existed when using VR headsets: Motion sickness. According to some companies who tried to use them on-board an aircraft, the problem was unsolvable. We worked for two months continuously to solve this, and eventually we did,” he continued.The team didn’t want to reveal exactly how they overcame this challenge, because it’s the main component of their competition entry. If they get through to the third round, Inflight-Online.com will be sure to press them on the details…

Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com

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