Often, when asked to imagine what kind of use cases might be available for travel companies in the XR world, people imagine a try-before-you-buy scenario. Virtual Reality headsets and AR apps offer an excellent way for people to experience an environment before purchasing a travel ticket.
However, the potential for XR in the travel industry goes much further than most people realize. During the pandemic for instance, one of the biggest benefits of XR for travel brands was its ability to facilitate transportation to different locations, without asking a customer to leave their home.
The same technology which powered armchair travel and VR adventures during the pandemic can also be used to provide travelers with a more immersive, engaging, and memorable experience when they’re on-route to their destinations. Qualcomm, Skylights, and Alaska Airlines are taking advantage of this fact to deliver premium in-flight entertainment to a new generation of travelers.
Changing the Travel Experience
For many consumers and businesses alike, one of the biggest benefits of XR is it’s teleportation capabilities. With nothing but a headset and the right software, you can trick your mind into believing you’re almost anywhere in the world (or outside of it).
These unique immersive experiences require access to the right processing technologies and tools, which is where innovators like Qualcomm come in. Committed to helping companies change the way they interact with their customers; Qualcomm Technologies has helped to power a multitude of valuable XR experiences over the years.
Recently, the Qualcomm team joined forces with a set of inflight XR specialists, Skylights, to create a unique content experience for travelers with Alaska Airlines. The solution aims to provide a more memorable in-flight experience for those in the premier class seats on an Alaska plane, by allowing them to fully submerge themselves in a cinematic viewing experience.
As customers become increasing concerned about the concept of travel, offering these unique experiences as part of the adventure could be an exciting way for travel brands to capture the attention of new consumers, and make purchases feel more worthwhile.
A New Level of In-Flight Entertainment
According to the Head of Sales at Skylight, Laurence Fornari, the mission of the company is to disrupt and rebuild the in-flight experience. By investing in unique XR travel experiences for airlines, the company is hoping to bring more immersive cinematic entertainment to people while they’re actually sitting in an aircraft.
This initiative began with equipping the premium cabin passengers on certain Alaska Airlines flights with premium Allosky XR headsets. These are lightweight and comfortable headsets, equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 mobile platform. Notably, the choice of Qualcomm’s platform was essential for this project as it’s engineered specifically to provide the power, speed and performance required for something as complex as in-flight XR entertainment.
What’s more, the Qualcomm platform can deliver phenomenal high-quality images and experiences, without compromising on mobility, integration options or security. The wire-free headset lacks the cables and bulk associated with most VR headset experiences, making them ideal for the smaller space provided by airline seats. The headsets also offer an impressive 1080p per eye resolution, for a fully HD experience that looks and feels as real as possible.
To minimize the amount of processing power required to stream content to the headsets, the Allosky XR devices are already loaded with a selection of 2D, 3D, and forward-facing 360 degree content options. This includes a catalog of blockbuster movies, for the standard in-flight viewing experience. There are also 360-degree documentaries, world-class series to browse through, and an XR for travel experience.
The XR for travel experience allows premium passengers to take part in immersive adventures, like transporting them to a world-class ballet recital, or a Cirque du Soleil performance.
Making Flights More Memorable
The solution built by Qualcomm and Skylight for Alaska Airlines provides a new avenue for flight entertainment which will allow people to go beyond the basics of watching a small screen on the back of their seat or holding a phone or tablet in their hands. Instead, you can experience your own private movie theater experience for a truly premium flight.
These in-flight XR experiences aim to help people escape the exhaustion of a long-haul flight, and could even assist with reducing fears about flying. However, the Qualcomm-Skylights experience aims to change travel experiences elsewhere too, by delivering tools to airport lounges and aboard various cruise ships.
According to Qualcomm, it’s not just the passengers who see the benefits of the XR experiences, but airlines too. In-flight entertainment hasn’t had many changes over the last few years, but XR programming could change all that. This means airlines that offer unique XR experiences will be able to enhance the customer experience and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Alaska Airlines believes that this technology could even be a valuable way to boost brand loyalty. Though the company has had a long-standing reputation for innovation and unique experiences, they feel this new solution will take things to the next level. The Product Manager for In-Flight entertainment at Alaska Airlines said they were keen to go beyond what most airlines are already doing. He also noted that the Allosky VR headset is one of the most stylish he’s seen up to now.
In addition to the recent trial flights created with Alaska Airlines, Skylights has also begun to deploy its entertainment solutions with other airlines around the world, including SriLanken Airlines, Air France, and XL Airways.
Qualcomm believes the launch of the Allosky XR headset experience is a major win for all the members of the collaboration, as well as XR players in general. According to Qualcomm, introducing more users to XR, and showing them what headsets can really do will lead to a future where XR is more widely adopted everywhere.