Aviation technology is transforming quickly, and in the last decade, we’ve seen some innovative technology come to life and spread like wildfire, including a biometric takeover throughout airports around the world. Plus, companies that focus on the future of aviation have taken steps to create interesting concepts that may very likely be implemented. Even more so, businesses invested in making the flying experience even better have envisioned products and services that are not only realistic but are also on the way to becoming a reality. From movable modules and curated onboard entertainment to augmented reality and 3D viewing capabilities, here are the top six “inventions” that will improve travel (or are already doing so).
Two large businesses in the aviation industry—Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace—came together to create modules for airplanes that can be easily modified within a few hours, without having to build a new plane. Each module would be different and could either contain passenger seats, a workout area, bunk beds for travelers, mini lounge or empty space for more cargo. The great part about this is the bottom part of the plane will not be disrupted. Although this is currently just a concept, Airbus sees this coming to life within the next few years.
Interesting in finding out more? Check out this video that takes you inside Airbus’ modular plane concept, courtesy of The Verge.
The well-known electronics corporation, Panasonic, has a subsidiary brand called Panasonic Avionics, which focuses on onboard entertainment products. Recently, Panasonic Avionics released a different type of service called NEXT Marketplace, designed to offer travelers an entirely new and customized shopping experience while flying. The platform focuses on curating products you would see on your flight, including food, WiFi, duty-free, films and music. These options would then transfer as you go from one flight to another, to make the shopping experience more personalized. The system would be able to analyze data to predict what passengers would order from the menu across those different categories, ultimately removing the need for waste.
There have also been talks about a system that will be able to offer specific deals depending on which area the plane is flying over, creating limited-time discounts on products exclusive for the passenger and airline.
How many of you have some type of subscription to a video content network such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime? And if you do, how many of you would love the ability to log into the screen in front of you while flying, and watch all your shows and films without draining your battery on any one of your devices? Many of us would love this feature, and talks about adding a similar entertainment option on flights—or, at least make the library as large as those found on network subscriptions.
Cadami, a media content distribution-based company based out of Munich, has the technology that can provide the airline’s IFE systems with similar features, without the airline needing to change their current entertainment platforms. Cadami’s program is said to soon be available on various airlines, although which airlines these will be has not yet been disclosed.
Alternate Viewing Screens
Virtual Reality (VR) has quickly spread throughout the digital world and has even been integrated into the travel experience. Airlines including Air France, Alaska Airlines and Qantas now have headsets available for business and/or first class passengers to use while flying. Moreover, Etihad, Emirates, and Aviapartner have also taken a step into the VR world by allowing premium passengers to utilize the headsets in their airport lounges. And that’s just the beginning. A company called United Screens is developing a platform where VR can be viewed without wearing glasses—a complete 3D adventure. Within the next few years, we will likely see an increase in airlines adopting VR to create an even better flying experience, although this may be reserved for business and/or first class passengers.
3D Seat Selection
Another way carriers are working to develop a better flying experience is via seat selection(s). Currently, most airlines only show a line-drawn image of the airplane with boxes for seats, which passengers can then select from. Emirates has taken a completely different approach by creating an “immersive 3D 360-degree view of [their] aircraft interiors”, which travelers can “navigate through the Economy, Business and First Class cabins, as well as the iconic Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa on the Emirates A380 using navigational hotspots.” Passengers are able to have a much better visual of not only where they are sitting, but what’s around them. The question now is, which airline will follow suit?
Most carriers offer WiFi onboard, but a lot of the time, it doesn’t work or is very weak. Airlines need to take steps in modifying and updating their systems to provide high-speed WiFi, which will make a much better flying experience for not only business travelers, but anyone wanting to connect to the Internet. All airplanes on Icelandair, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue have WiFi installed, whereas all other airlines only have WiFi on some of their planes. Nonetheless, based on a recent report by Routehappy, the top airlines in the world (in terms of having the best WiFi connection) include Delta, American Airlines, Emirates and United. The hope is that WiFi connection will become even better in the very near future because nothing is more frustrating than not being able to answer that email, finish a project, or watch the last episode of your favorite TV show.
Which flying experience are you looking forward to the most? And, have you been lucky to be exposed to any one of them?