Book Your Next Trip Entirely In VR
Travel company Amadeus is testing a new virtual reality booking service that lets travelers model a trip without leaving home
Virtual reality has developed exponentially in the past two years, from a mere promise of a larger vision to something more tangible and deep-reaching. Though the technology certainly has a long way to go before it reaches mass adoption, we’ve already seen VR used to simulate college campus tours, share a virtual space for ‘Hulu and chill,’ gamify the hardships of acquiring chiseled abs, train employees from afar instead of having to purchase a flight ticket, reinvent e-commerce and raise awareness and empathy toward individuals on the autism spectrum. With the continual advancement of software, hardware and a general understanding of how to fashion environments and experiences, VR technology will entirely transform industries that stand to benefit from ‘digital spatialization,’ including gaming, employee training, real estate, medical treatment, military and defense, retail, transportation, media and entertainment, social media, event planning and of course, travel.
As it occurred to Navitaire, a low-cost carrier reservation platform acquired by travel-tech giant Amadeus in 2015, current travel-based VR experiences (such as Marriott’s ‘VRoom Service‘) focus on impressing travelers with a VR tour of an arbitrary destination, paying less attention to the booking details of the trip. Almost no research has been publicized as to what choosing a flight and booking a hotel or car in VR would look like. To push the needle in this direction, Navitaire showed off their proof-of-concept for virtual reality travel booking in a demonstration for Skift, designed to replicate the experience of planning a whole trip in three dimensions.
Navitaire UX developer Justin Wilde demonstrated the many ways users could employ the interface. Paired with electronic ‘smart gloves’ that detect hand movements for use within VR, Wilde picked up a calendar and pointed to a date to see available trips. Model planes popped up before him on a globe to represent available flights on the selected date, which he could pick up and inspect to view seating charts and aircraft sizes. Or, by clicking on a plane’s flightpath, Wilde could navigate directly to the ticket information, where he could finalize his purchase.
A floating wallet near a user’s side grants access to their credit card (which presumably gets linked at the beginning). When booking for more than one person, a user would be able to choose their seats by dropping miniature avatars in place on the selected plane. Since everything is represented visually, it makes it easier to understand differences between planes, whether a trip requires a layover and other details about a flight. In this way, the reinvention of travel booking is not only immersive, but also helps relate information in a more intuitive, contextual and visceral way than standard 2D platforms.
Though Navitaire certainly has much to improve on before it’s ready to ship a commercial version of its software, it’s the first of its kind to deliver the full process of booking travel to paradise and back. Their VR flight booking experience is designed to run on all consumer-ready headsets.
Lead Image: Asian woman playing game in virtual reality glasses via Shutterstock
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Palmer Luckey is the founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift, a consumer virtual reality headset. Prior to starting Oculus VR, Palmer attended California State University and worked as an engineer at the Mixed Reality Lab at the Institute for Creative Technologies focusing on developing cost-effective virtual reality.
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