A virtual reality world will soon be assigned to each passenger on an aircraft. Known as VR Hyperspace, this project is led by the University of Nottingham and is funded by the European Commission under their 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7).
There’s a growing population of airline passengers and less space and comfort to accommodate them. While increasing the size of planes is certainly an option, researchers also believe that comfort comes from visual scenery.
Using both mounted displays and projectors surrounding the cabin, the passengers will be able to immerse themselves in a visual experience that, in theory, should help provide enough comfort to distract them from all the minor discomforts passengers experience.
At Fraunhofer IAO, researchers have developed a mock-up cabin designed specifically to test out their VR Hyperspace project. Using the displays and projectors used in commercial airplanes, the researchers were able to design a “transparent” setting that would allow each passenger to look not only at the sky, but everything that is below them.
For passengers who may be afraid of heights, they’ll be able to change the scenery to their own preference, from sitting on a riverbed while watching a waterfall cascade below them, to being submerged in a rainforest, listening to the various animal sounds.
Imagine sitting down on a commercial airliner, listening to the captain give his or her usual assurance that a safe flight will occur, telling you to buckle up and enjoy the ride. The lights turn off. You are in total darkness. A light then flickers on in front of you – in front of each passenger – displaying a dialog that asks you which scenery you’d like to experience during the flight. You choose and then watch the chosen environment take over, as if you’re in one of the infamous Star Trek holodecks.
Perhaps displays and projectors will be unnecessary to ensure such experiences. With the growing market demand for VR tech like the Oculus Rift, what if passengers were given complimentary VR goggles to wear? Each passenger would be able to experience their own preferred scenery at the comfort of their own eyes, reluctantly awaiting the flight attendant to inform them that they’ve reached their destination.
Photo Credit: Fraunhofer IAO and ScienceDaily
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