Inflight VR

Inflight VR – Virtual Reality in the air – flying and diving into other worlds.

Esther Nestle
13.12.2019
1 picture
5 minutes

The actual reality consists of arrow seats, little legroom in cramped conditions, and run of the mill on-board entertainment on small screens … many travellers do not feel comfortable in the plane. The Munich Startup Inflight VR, (VR: virtual reality) promises a remedy: The passenger puts on VR glasses and delves into a completely new world (immersion), forgets all about the cramped space conditions, even the unpleasant neighbors and enjoys a relaxed flight towards his/her destination.

With the development of such virtual reality worlds and experiences, the company, founded in 2014, aims to establish itself as the “best travel companion” in the aviation industry.

Business Unit Immersive Engineering

The interview with Inflight VR

The company’s history? From its foundation until today.

Inflight VR was founded in Munich in 2014 by two friends, Moritz Engler and Nikolas Jaeger, who met during their studies at the renowned Swiss University of St. Gallen. The two had no background in VR, but recognized the potential of this technology.

They started to build a team, among others with CTO Elena Kokkinara, who holds a PhD in Virtual Reality and Usage Behaviour.

Then Airbus became aware of us and included Inflight VR in the accelerator program “Airbus BizLab”. This in turn led us to focus more on mobility markets, especially airlines.

Virtual reality - Inflight VR
The Inflight VR team in the Airbus BizLab 2017 / © Inflight VR

A second company headquarters was founded in Barcelona and a specialized engineering team was assembled.

In 2018 we won our first customers, Iberia and FlixBus, who initially started pilot projects. Within the first year we were able to expand our customer base to nine partners. In addition to Munich and Barcelona, we have developers in Asia and an office near Los Angeles for marketing and content contacts, such as Hollywood Studios.

Virtual reality
The wide entertainment programme by Inflight VR / © Inflight VR

Inflight VR’s offer in a nutshell?

Virtual Reality Entertainment for companies in the travel industry. We evaluate and modify hardware (headsets), develop software, license content, address security aspects and system integration, provide marketing services and advise on logistics processes.

What opportunities does the product offer?

Inflight VR’s platform is by far the most impressive (the term immersive hits the mark even more), and at the same time the most cost-effective passenger experience on the market. Airlines don’t have to make any investments. Operating costs are minimal compared to other products such as screens or the internet.

Systems that are installed on board are usually already outdated at the time of installation and can only be replaced at great cost. Inflight VR, if required, can switch to new technologies within a few weeks.

We offer airlines flexible business models that allow them to tailor our products to their needs and budget and generate additional revenue through rental fees, advertising and product placement.

Through our partners, we are also in a position to form corporate partnerships that can cover part of the total costs. Currently, Lego, SunExpress and Inflight VR are working together.

Virtual reality in an aircraft
Lego City in the programme of Inflight VR / © Inflight VR

What advantages does Inflight VR offer, especially for aviation?

VR usually has an immense impact on comfort and passenger satisfaction. Our rating is 4.3 out of 5, about 20 percent above any other platform. It is very interesting to observe what passengers do when they put on their headset. Most people lean back and stretch their legs because they forget how little space they really have. The experience of space and freedom has a very relaxing effect on many passengers. We are currently working with an airline that wants to tailor our experience exclusively to relaxation.

Inflight VR’s core service is the integration of technology into on-board systems.

Via APIs (programming interfaces) we can connect to existing systems on board. By using wireless networks on board, we establish a connection with the cabin management systems, which allows the crew to send messages to passengers with headsets, such as seat belt information or service announcements.

Not all content is suitable for on-board use. Our team in Barcelona makes the necessary changes to eliminate nausea, dizziness or other restrictive effects. As the passengers usually sit very close to each other, it must be possible to adjust the navigation without arm use. With Inflight VR there is no such thing as elbow check.

How far has the product already been developed? Prototype? Or already on sale?

The product is fully developed and is already being used in aviation. And with headsets, we have already reached the third generation.

Inflight VR glasses
© Inflight VR

What are the challenges facing the company in an industry with high safety requirements such as aviation?

The most decisive configuration is the integration into existing cabin management systems, which can vary greatly from airline to airline. We are the only company that can meet these different requirements through its APIs.

We don’t need any certification for the headsets. We prevent any harm or inconvenience to seat neighbours by adapting the navigation appropriately.

Which companies in the aviation industry do you cooperate with?

Austrian Airlines, Aviapartners, EL AL, Iberia, Jin Air, Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance, SunExpress.

Dear Mr. Walter, thank you very much for the interesting information!

Images © Inflight VR

by Esther Nestle

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