FLYING 4.0 – WHAT WILL AIR TRAVEL BE LIKE IN 2050?

FLYING 4.0 – WHAT WILL AIR TRAVEL BE LIKE IN 2050?

VR-HYPERSPACE IMPROVES PASSENGER COMFORT IN CRAMPED AIRCRAFT CABINS

As things stand, comfort levels aboard most passenger aircraft are less than ideal – and things aren’t getting any better: tomorrow’s aircraft will offer no extra space and even fewer windows. Nine partners from six European countries are working together in the EU-sponsored VR – HYPERSPACE project to investigate ways of making air travel as comfortable as possible in future. The project part­ners are carrying out fundamental research and developing new technologies in an effort to effect a paradigm shift in passenger comfort. Their work is based on the latest display and lighting technology and on virtual reality, and takes into ac­count the latest insights into the psychology of perception. Alongside investigat­ing passenger comfort, the research partners are also changing the way passen­gers perceive space and indeed themselves.

TRANSPARENT INTERIOR AIRPLANE AND TROPICAL BEACHES AT THE PUSH OF A BUTTON

As part of the project, Fraunhofer IAO has developed a mock-up of an aircraft cabin in which the plane’s shell can be switched to “see-through mode”. Passengers bothered by the seats in front can choose to make these transparent, too. Of course, this is possible only in a virtual sense: all the seat backrests are entirely covered in displays, with flat-screen televisions built into the floor and 14 projectors for projecting images onto the cabin walls. Effectively, the whole cabin is a display. Combined with a head tracking system, this lets passengers think they’re not in a plane but on a magic carpet! For those who are scared of heights or nervous about flying, the displays can naturally also show other scenes, such as a tropical island or a stream running through a forest. Any passengers with work to do can run current Office applications on the built-in display system, all the while enjoying the (virtual) sunshine of their own desert island. Initial results indicate that the scenarios developed so far enable test subjects to put up with a lack of comfort for longer and feel that time flies by more quickly.

VIRTUAL REALITY CREATES SPACE - The illusion of more space and comfort

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics tests scientific outcomes on self and space perception during in-flight motions, .i.e. turbulence. The first results using fully tracked and immersive head-mounted-displays¹ demonstrate that one can experience pres­ence in a larger space (i.e. a beach), experience an altered virtual body (i.e a more comfort­able posture²) and that the experience of the body size influences the perception of space. The question for the final months is if these positive illusions occur under flight conditions and/or can alleviate stress caused by experiencing turbulence in-flight? For demonstration the head-mounted display positive illusion experiences, physiological and behavioral meas­uring technology and the CyberMotion Simulator for simulation of turbulence are combined. The CyberMotion Simulator is a novel all-purpose motion simulator that provides scientists the unique opportunity to test future scenarios of using virtual reality in flight while observ­ing their behavior.

¹ glasses allowing to perceive a spacious virtual 3D-scene m

² project in cooperation with Prof. Mel Slater, Universitat de Barcelona

Press Release

Future technologies to help airline passengers experience increased comfort and space and an altered self-perception more
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