Tech Report

By: Nick Gambino

With the release of the Oculus Rift we can expect Virtual Reality headsets to permeate our every day living in the not-too-distant future. I’m predicting in 5 years, we’ll no longer go outside. Every stimulating activity will simply be engaged in from the comfort of our couch furnished by the newest VR headset.

In-flight entertainment is some times the only way to survive an otherwise boring, uncomfortable plane flight. Once upon a time movies were shown on a large projector screen in the front. Then a few years ago various airlines placed that marvelous screen in every seat so we can all watch TV comfortably.

With the innovation of smart devices some companies like American Airlines and United have opted to provide passengers with tablets on flights without in-seat screens. The tablets come pre-loaded with all types of movies, TV, music and games. This is sometimes only reserved for First or Business Class passengers and can cost anywhere from $10-$15.

So what’s the next step? Well if they continue their current trend of adopting technology used on the ground then the next big thing is Virtual Reality. The success of the Samsung Gear VR has made VR popular again and with the long-awaited release of the Oculus Rift we’re geared for stratospheric VR heights.

Currently Gear VR users are plugging in and tuning out while they’re in the air. VR is the only true way to fully isolate yourself from other passengers and the flight experience. Depending on your like or dislike of passengers or flying this is either a good thing or bad thing.

Whether you decide to use Virtual Reality to watch Netflix in a cozy living room or in a giant theater or decide to play a spaced-out game, one thing’s for sure, it’s unlikely you’ll see or hear anybody else on the plane until you’re done.

Now there have been rumblings about the possibility of some airlines taking to handing out VR headsets on flights much the way they currently hand out tablets. If there is any truth to that it’s doubtful this will be the new Oculus Rift as that takes some serious horsepower to run. You can’t even get it booted up without a souped-up PC.

If they do take to the VR trend they’re likely to rent out Gear VR headsets to paying passengers. This will only work for those who own a Samsung smartphone so that strategy would be limited. And honestly with the headset going for only $100 you might as well just buy one and bring it on the flight with you.

So really it just becomes a nicety, not something revolutionary. Once VR tech progresses further and requires less power to run we may see VR headsets in every seat. Now that would be killer.

What do you think about VR technology being integrated into your in-flight entertainment? Comment below or mention us in a Tweet!


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch.  He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.


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