What if you could fly to Paris in an Airbus A380 cushy first class seat while having a four-course meal but without even leaving the ground?
Everything’s possible in the world of virtual reality.
First Airlines – a Tokyo-based restaurant – has taken ‘virtual experience’ to a whole new level for its customers. When you order a certain continental dish from say Paris, you are virtually ‘taken’ to Paris. But not before you are asked to ‘fasten your seat belts’ because why not, it’s after all an ‘in-flight’ experience.
The ambient noise makes it all the more real creating a truly immersive experience. So you find yourself devouring a delectable four-course menu while ‘visiting’ Paris in a VR setting.
How does that sound?
The virtual take-off
The restaurant has immersive VR tours to the world’s best places such as New York City, Hawaii, and Rome. After you ‘take off’ for your Virtual Reality simulation experience, you’ll be served by some first-class cabin crew [if the restaurant is to be believed, they’re all legitimate ex-flight crew, too].
While there are ‘business’ and ‘first class’ seating designations, the VR experience remains same for all patrons. Even the restaurant’s online booking page represents an airline’s site, and presentation of your ‘boarding pass’ at some partner shops will net you a nice discount too.
See the world like never before
However, what’s most pertinent in this particular VR use case is that a special demographic has been kept in mind while offering these experiences. A spokesperson for the First Airlines restaurant highlighted that those unable to partake in the ‘real’ experience [be it due to age, injury or simply circumstances] to experience things that would otherwise be barred to them would now be able to ‘see’ the world like never before.
Source: First Airlines
The restaurant isn’t the very first business to use VR. The Virtual Reality immersive experiences are now widely used to tour archaeological sites. It has particularly spiced up the otherwise dull experience of learning prosaic history when it is used in museum settings. Interestingly, now even actual airlines such as Qantas Airlines have started to offer VR experiences to their first class guests.
The VR software and hardware market size worldwide is projected to be USD 40.4 billion by 2020 while the projected economic impact of VR/AR technologies is predicted to be USD 15.6 billion. [Source: Statista]
But wait, how willing are users?
Google’s Consumer Survey 2016 says that 41% of the adults are interested in giving VR a try. No wonder Amazon is selling more than 190 kinds of VR headsets currently.
According to a Bloomberg report, China’s VR market will be $8.5 Billion soon. In fact, the report said that there are at least 200 startups working in China’s VR industry. China is also pushing low-cost models quite aggressively giving its US counterparts a run for their money.
Virtual reality is a unique and truly captivating way for any business to stand out in a very crowded marketplace. It may have looked like it’s cut out for gaming and entertainment, but now VR is making its foray into medicine and surgery, education, space technologies, travel and tourism, food and beverages to name a few.
This means, the market is gearing up in all directions and soon there won’t be a single industry that won’t find a use case in VR. The benefits of VR in each industry help businesses achieve similar goals – help in getting attention in a saturated market and the sci-fi feel of the product makes it interesting for consumers. As it is, consumers are always up for any new technology and currently, the most fun is the VR.
Would you jump at the chance of experiencing a city ‘virtually’ in a restaurant? Do you see more applications of virtual reality in the foreseeable future despite the debates surrounding it? Let us know your thoughts below.
Featured image credit : First Airlines