There are several technologies currently being developed to take in-flight entertainment and the flying experience to new heights.
Thales, a key player in the on-board entertainment solutions space, for instance, is working on embedding gesture control and eye tracking technology into in-flight entertainment systems.
With the gesture control technology, passengers would no longer need to use a controller to interact with the screen. Meanwhile, with eye tracking technology passengers would no longer need to hit the pause button on a movie before interacting with an air stewardess.
“It’s all to do with improving the passenger experience and driving that wow factor that premium airlines want to achieve with customers,” a spokesperson from Thales told CNBC.
Do these things really generate much revenue for the airlines? I remember wondering when the iPad came out, who was ever going to rent a hotel movie again after buying one. And with smartphones becoming ubiquitous and tablets not far behind, how much money should the airlines really be dumping into high-tech entertainment services?
If I’m on a flight with a screen, I put it on the flight tracker map and leave it there (I like to keep abreast of things). If there’s no flight tracker, I dim the screen until it’s “off,” since there doesn’t seem to be a way to actually turn the damn thing off the duration. And then I launch Kindle or sign up for inflight wifi and get to work.
But writing through this I think now I get some of the appeal for the airlines. I dim my screen, but it always comes right back up to full brightness as soon as there’s something the airline wants me to see — feel-good promos (United is the worst), safety demonstrations, what have you. By making it all high-tech and cool, perhaps they’re hoping you’ll spend more time watching the things they want you to see. And maybe I would, if United would just stop abusing George Gershwin so badly.
How do you kill flight time?