Until now, the benefits and applications of virtual reality (VR) in travel have mostly been fun diversions, or a way for travelers to “experience” something before they decide to buy.
But one company has unveiled a technology that would allow VR to be the actual platform through which travelers book their trips.
Navitaire, a travel technology company (owned by travel tech giant Amadeus), revealed a new system that would allow travelers to discover and book real-life trips without ever leaving virtual reality, Skift reported.
When users put on the VR headset, they are greeted by a giant globe which they can spin to explore destinations around the world. Users wear electronically connected gloves to make decisions, select and grab in virtual reality. If they are curious about a destination, they can go in and explore the sites — similar to many travel VR products already out there.
However, once they choose their destination, users can see different airline routes and pick their airline. Once they’ve selected a flight, they can compare seats on the plane in VR. Users can also choose to test out rental cars and compare size and seating through VR — something useful when deciding whether or not that budget airfare is really worth it. Once they’ve made all of their decisions, users can pick up a virtual credit card (linked to a real credit card) and pay for their entire trip.
The project is still in development. Even though there’s currently a patent pending, don’t expect to book a trip in VR anytime soon. Amadeus could continue adding new features. Eventually, the technology could link up with social media to show users where their Facebook friends have traveled. Travelers could even manage reservations and check in for flights using VR.
“I see a future in which the internet will be a 3D experience, and everyone will have their own portable 3D headsets,” Justin Wilde, a user experience developer at Navitaire, said in a statement. “This will be a much more natural experience for us, because the world we live in has three dimensions. I think technology, and the way we design user experience online should reflect that too.”