Interview: How One VR Company Plans To Fix The Flying Experience

Interview: How One VR Company Plans To Fix The Flying Experience
Automotive

Faced with tough competition and pressure to innovate, airlines are looking to improve the in-flight experience, and the CEO of VR company SkyLights believes he has found the solution

PSFK
  • 5 october 2018

Often cramped and notoriously difficult to upgrade, airplanes are infrequently considered an entertaining or relaxing environment. One technology company has created an immersive VR headset designed to improve the traveler’s journey and give partner airlines an edge on their ever-growing competition. PSFK spoke to SkyLights‘ CEO, David Dicko via email, for an exclusive look into the future of air travel.

How are airlines responding to new technologies? Are they hesitant to adopting them or updating the airplanes themselves?

Today, airlines are faced with tough competition from the rise of low cost long & short haul carriers as well as the rapid expansion of carriers in the Middle-East. In the midst of this increasing competition, technological advancements have enabled travelers to easily compare flight prices with many booking purely on price. In this context it is harder than ever for airlines to foster customer loyalty.

In-flight entertainment (IFE) is a part of the journey that can help foster loyalty, but which today is a pain point along the customer journey. Currently, seatback screens are the norm, but they are notoriously out-dated even by the time they are installed. Given the high capital expenditure they are usually kept for around 7 years, which is a very long time with the current rate of technological advancement. They are also very heavy making them extremely expensive to fly around.

In this context, airlines are actively searching for new options, with many closely watching the advancement of VR. VR is a good fit for air travel. It is lightweight, offers high quality entertainment and a feeling of space, and gives airlines greater flexibility. While it takes time for what are typically conservative corporations to adopt innovation, disruption is now taking place.

SkyLights solution has been deployed for almost 2 years on 6,000 flights. It has been deployed in Europe with Air France, Joon Corsair and XL Airways as well as with the train company SNCF. It has also recently been piloted in the lounge with Emirates and Etihad and inflight with Alaska Airlines.

Why does the customer need your product?

For airlines, SkyLights solution offers a passenger experience upgrade (recent blockbusters & VR films on a Full HD, wide-angle cinema screen) to help foster loyalty especially among business class passengers. At the same time, it offers flexibility and up-to-date technology as the solution is leased on a yearly basis with the hardware (SkyLights headsets) regularly updated. Finally, it allows airlines to differentiate their customer journey in the face of increased competition, thus avoiding the threat of price based commoditization.

How does SkyLights improve the customer experience, for the traveler? How have responses been?

SkyLights offers unparalleled entertainment quality onboard in terms of immersiveness and content. It enables passengers to escape to their own private movie theater, where they can enjoy early-window blockbusters, documentaries, series and VR films in 2D, 3D and VR on a IMAX style Full HD screen. Wearing SkyLights‘ lightweight and stylish headsets, passengers become immersed in their film and the time flies.

Passenger feedback have been resoundingly positive. From thousands of surveys completed, we have a 95% satisfaction rate. Passengers also use the headsets for four hours on average.

What’s next for SkyLights? Are you looking to move into any other industries beyond air travel?

Having deployed its solution in Europe and recently launched its cutting edge new Allosky device, SkyLights is now focussing on rapid expansion with airline around the globe. With a primary focus of inflight, it will also start to develop its solution for the lounge, to offer a unique and memorable passenger experience across the customer journey.

Skylights is also looking to develop throughout the wider travel sector, and has already deployed on the train with pilots successfully completed and ongoing in hotels and on cruise ships.

Do you see in-flight VR as a luxury? Or would you like to democratize it and bring it to everyone?

Today, VR can offer a very high quality experience. With airlines particularly interested in fostering loyalty among their premium passengers SkyLights has decided to focus on tailoring its solution to upgrade and differentiate the business class experience. Once established, it will then spread to the back of the plane.

What is your vision for in-flight entertainment in the future?

High quality immersive entertainment that gives passengers choice. They will be able to watch the newest blockbuster releases, or their Netflix favorites, on a cinema-sized screen or stream the world cup final in VR during their flight.

SkyLights

Often cramped and notoriously difficult to upgrade, airplanes are infrequently considered an entertaining or relaxing environment. One technology company has created an immersive VR headset designed to improve the traveler’s journey and give partner airlines an edge on their ever-growing competition. PSFK spoke to SkyLights‘ CEO, David Dicko via email, for an exclusive look into the future of air travel.

+air travel
+airline
+alaska airlines
+Automotive
+Entertainment
+flight
+flying
+Interview
+loyalty & membership
+Luxury
+mobility
+packaging & product engagement
+retail
+Shopper education & assistance
+skylights
+store experience & design
+Transportation
+travel
+Virtual Reality
+VR

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