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