Airline travel as your preferred transportation method can leave you with movement restrictions and limited capabilities while in flight. When it comes to more lengthy or international flights, you will need something to pass the time. Because of this, airlines are always in the market for the latest technology that will set them apart from everyone else. As in-flight technology and capabilities expand, so do our entertainment options. Seat-back entertainment was once a luxury, but new technology will lead to new entertainment systems.
Gone are the days of having to pick up a magazine or book at the airport newsstand. Instead, you can turn your business flight into a chance to journey through Kilimanjaro or improve your batting average! Get ready, it’s coming!
Out with old seat-back In-flight entertainment
There was once a time when flying was a chance to experience technology that had not quite yet hit the everyday market.
The first Hollywood film that was presented on an airplane, The Lost World, took place in 1925. Unfortunately, in-flight seat-back entertainment was going to take some more work to make it to the mainstream market. That began to happen in the 1960’s. TWA (TransWorld Airlines) was the first airline to pick up the innovative technology and installed the means for an in-flight movie on their longer flights.
Eventually, the seats were wired for audio first, using hollow tube headphones then, electronic headsets. The movies were shown on CRT monitors that were sporadically placed in the center aisle throughout the aircraft’s cabin. In the 1970’s the new way a movie was projected through the aircraft (using 8mm film) allowed the flight attendants to change movies while in-flight. Heading on into the 1980’s and 1990’s, the 8mm film was replaced with LaserDiscs and VHS tapes.
The first seat-back entertainment LCD monitors were introduced in 1988. These became quite standard, showing things such as cable television channels, select movies, and updating maps of the flight. While this was excitedly welcomed by many as the technology was created, the times keep changing…
With the introduction of available wireless internet on flights, combined with the affordable means to owning one’s own personal device, seat-back entertainment and monitors are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Wi-Fi will be standard
Wireless internet has been available on flights, so the technology is there. However, there is usually a fee to use it. It is becoming more commonplace for airplane Wi-Fi to be a perk for those in first or business class. It tends to be an additional option for those with economy fare tickets.
Although some companies, such as Netflix, are making it easier to use their service while not being connected, the wireless internet allows for greater connectivity while on board a flight. Because devices are so affordable these days, the trend among the airlines is to encourage passengers to bring their own device. Cell phones, laptops, tablets, handheld gaming systems, etc. can all be used with or without an internet connection. And many of these devices offer the same thing as LCD seat-back entertainment – and then some!
Watch out for Interactive Zones
Interactive zones are trying to make their way on board flights. And why not? We have the technology for interactive screens, and with all the downtime one may face on a long flight, why not work on your golf game?
Interactive zones would be outside of the actual cabin seating area. They would offer a space to move and play. Large interactive screens would offer various games or sports such as golf, baseball, or bowling. Warming up and practicing your favorite sport leads to an even greater perk of these interactive zones: the ability to move and stretch during long flights!
An online queue with a touchscreen
Airlines are always looking for ways to make flights run more smoothly while also keeping guests comfortable – and happy. Airlines are creating an interactive seat-back to lead to a smoother flight experience. For example, using touchscreen technology, passengers can add themselves to a virtual bathroom line. This will diminish the need for passengers to be out of their seat. It will also reduce the chaos of clogged aisle ways.
Another option for the touchscreens would be to select drinks, meals, and snacks in advance. Flight attendants would no longer need to go row to row with a cart full of options and ask each individual one by one what his or her preference is. Instead, the flight attendants would know before they go, making the process more effective and efficient.
Virtual Reality screens
Virtual Reality screens are one of the greatest contemporary trends – and they are finding their way onto airlines, too. These are perfect for individuals who are, for one reason or another, afraid of flying or for those who are always seeking new adventures!
Virtual Reality headsets can transform your view. Climb to the top of Mount Everest, go white water rafting, immerse yourself in a world of dinosaurs, etc. There is even a company who is currently working on using the cameras on the outside of the planes to be displayed on a virtual reality screen – making it look as though you are flying outside of the plane!
Places for community and privacy
In addition to technology, the trend in the industry is to move toward a sense of community and comfort. Airlines are considering re-vamping airplanes to allow for extra room. Room for relaxing face to face with others over a beverage. This can provide a space for encouraging community and networking among those in the first or business classes. In addition, longer flights may eventually provide a private space for snoozing – greatly reducing the chances of the dreaded jet-lag.
Unfortunately, these ideas have not yet made it to those flying in coach. Airlines need to continue to offer affordable travel methods aside from luxury.
Technology is continuously advancing to make our life experiences more enjoyable. This includes the airline travel industry. In-flight entertainment started with magazines and books, moved to the seat-back entertainment, and is moving towards personal device entertainment. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight – in many very different ways!