Airlines fly the flag for VR entertainment — at a fee

Skylights VR
Virtual reality in the skies could be the next big thing

Co-passengers can be the worst thing about flying. In recognition of that fact, French company Skylights has created virtual reality (VR) headsets to use on planes.

The French start-up makes a headset with a built-in screen that plays 2D, 3D and VR videos in high resolution, allowing passengers to tune out their surroundings — and unpleasant co-passengers — completely.

Virtual escape

The headset allows passengers “to really escape from where you are and be isolated from the rest of the cabin,” Laurence Fornari, Head of Sales, told the Washington Post. The fact that it shields your eyes and ears will allow you to “forget your neighbor that you don’t know” and block out “the baby that’s crying,” she said.

Each device offers the same experience as sitting in the middle row of a movie theatre, the Post reports. The units all have 128GB storage, which can hold about 40 HD movies. However, although the video feed is integrated into the unit, they need to be paired with external audio headsets, according to the company’s website. Each works for about six hours on a single charge.

Earlier this month the company released the second iteration of the wearable device, called Bravo, which are cord-free and weigh about 280g each.

The company has already been working with several airlines in Europe, including Air France, KLM and low-cost carrier XL Airways. Skylights has also teamed with 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks to show their films, and current units already offer about 60 different movies.

Airlines could rent out the units to passengers, giving them one more way to make money off us — although, of course, travellers could still choose to watch programmes of their choice on their own devices.

skylights bravo
The new Bravo units from Skylights are cord-free and can play 2D, 3D and VR content in HD

Problematic content

On the other hand, given people’s reactions to virtual reality (when playing QuiVR, Jordan Belamire felt she had been sexually assaulted, although nobody actually touched her), there could soon be laws in place against this sort of thing. (Fornari did agree that some content could be problematic in the sky — but says the company aims to add more cinematic VR that places the viewer inside the video without need to turn around or leave their seat.)

At least there’s that. Especially in the sky, where I wouldn’t want my seatmate thinking she’s on a roller coaster. Imagine if she started praying loudly in Arabic — that’d cause an international incident on some routes!