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Airbus imagines in-flight metaverse entertainment

A European aerospace giant selects a winning concept for in-flight entertainment in the metaverse that envisions passengers spending time in a virtual town square.

More than 60 entries were submitted to a competition Airbus launched in cooperation with HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform, to explore the future of travel through the metaverse. Applicants were asked to "reimagine" traveler experience while onboard the plane.

"Metaverse is an unknown world, and we'd like to understand how it can elevate our passengers' experience," Marc Fischer, senior vice president of engineering at Airbus, said when the competition opened in April.

Capgemini, a Paris-based information technology services company, snatched the top prize of $10,000. Its winning concept proposed designing a virtual Airbus town square that would offer a personalized, immersive experience depending on the specifics of the trip, such as flight destination and time zone changes.

Traveler age, entertainment preferences, and dietary restrictions would also consult the experience. Passengers could use smartphones, tablets, or virtual reality headsets to log into the virtual town square, imagined as a relaxing place with chirping birds and playing fountains.

It would come alive once the plane takes off and could serve as a hub for an "almost unlimited" number of experiences in sights and sounds, Airbus said, as well as a platform for services, such as in-flight shopping and booking of hotels.

Tugrul Yildirim, transformation portfolio manager at Airbus, said the challenge gave "an excellent view" of how the public and companies picture the role metaverse could play in air travel.

Four other submissions were awarded $5,000 each out of the total prize pool of $30,000. These included an NFT-based proposal from New York company Silicon Harlem and a "multilayer virtual reality environment" from a UK firm Imersifi that would see fellow passengers interacting through their avatars.

Two of the five winning proposals were submitted by private individuals. One envisioned a "sky lounge" that would enable passengers to leave virtual "mementos" in the sky and enjoy a view outside the airplane from any seat. The other individual submission proposed a virtual reality "super app" to combat flight-related stress, discomfort, or boredom.

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