Soaring to new heights: Building a metaverse for airline travel
Kuruvilla ‘Mat’ Mathew, Chief innovation Architect
The metaverse has the power to create a more immersive, personalized, and seamless travel experience, making air travel more enjoyable, efficient, and memorable for passengers around the world.
Kuruvilla ‘Mat’ Mathew, Chief innovation Architect
Organizations, both large and small, stand on the verge of a new era marked by the unprecedented accessibility of an immersive internet. This interconnected universe heralds the dawn of Web 3.0, blurring the line between the real world and the digital world.
Although often associated with gaming, where people can interact with one another and virtual environments strictly for entertainment, the metaverse also has far-reaching potential across various industries by enabling companies to visualize and explore business problems in new ways and test multiple scenarios before implementing changes in the real world.
According to McKinsey, approximately 95% of business leaders expect the metaverse to positively impact their industry within the next five to 10 years, and 61% expect it to change how their industry operates.
Benefits of the metaverse for the airline industry
The airline industry has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, continuously striving to enhance flight safety and improve the passenger experience. The metaverse can pose challenges for the industry, including:
- Increasing reliance on digital technologies and interconnected systems may require airlines to strengthen their cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive passenger information.
- Providing immersive and seamless virtual travel experiences may require upgrades to technology and infrastructure, such as high-speed internet connections and robust server infrastructure.
- Meeting elevated customer expectations for more personalized, interactive experiences such as virtual lounges and immersive in-flight entertainment, may require significant investment in technology and infrastructure.
- Creating a multi-platform and multi-device ecosystem integrated across various virtual reality platforms, devices, and operating systems may require collaboration with technology companies.
But by embracing the metaverse, airlines can reimagine air travel by providing unique and immersive experiences to employees and customers, revolutionizing the way they experience air travel by:
- Creating 3D models of aircraft or airports and simulating various scenarios to evaluate design and functionality.
- Allowing passengers to preview flights, choose seats, and explore the airport in a virtual environment.
- Providing a safe and cost-effective way for flight crews and airport employees to practice emergency procedures and other critical skills.
How the metaverse will transform the airline industry
Creating 3D modeling and simulations
The metaverse provides a platform for creating accurate and detailed 3D models. Using advanced software and data, designers and engineers can construct virtual replicas that precisely mirror real-world elements. These models can include nearly every aspect of air travel, from the intricate details of an airport terminal to the external structure and internal comfort of an aircraft.
Travelers are looking for convenience, and the metaverse has the potential to make travel easier for them. For example, airlines can streamline the check-in process by offering virtual check-in options. Or they can create immersive flight booking experiences in the metaverse to help travelers understand what to expect during their flights and virtually explore and compare different flight options, seat configurations, and onboard amenities.
By leveraging the metaverse's simulation capabilities, engineers and designers can virtually evaluate and validate various design aspects of aircraft and airports. This enables quick iterations and adjustments, reducing the time and cost associated with physical prototyping. Early identification of design flaws will ensure safer and more efficient aviation solutions.
The metaverse also enables the assessment and optimization of functional aspects of aircraft and airports. For example, airport designers can simulate passenger flows, baggage handling processes, and security protocols to identify bottlenecks, optimize layouts, and streamline operations. Aircraft manufacturers can assess cabin configurations, seating arrangements, and onboard systems to enhance comfort, safety, and overall passenger experience.
Transforming the passenger experience
The virtual realm can potentially revolutionize how we experience the world around us. For the airline industry, the metaverse offers a transformative opportunity to enhance the passenger experience in ways we have never imagined. From immersive virtual tours to personalized services, the metaverse opens up a world of possibilities for creating memorable and seamless journeys.
For example, navigating airports and transit points can often be a stressful part of the travel experience. In the metaverse, passengers can access virtual maps, navigation systems, and augmented reality guides, making it easier to plot a course through airports, find gates, and locate amenities. This seamless integration of technology and travel ensures a smoother journey, reducing stress and enhancing overall satisfaction.
A major American airline wanted to test digital signage solutions in a West Coast airport to provide airline staff with more flexible, transparent, up-to-the-minute information. Unfortunately, evaluating the signage in person would be both costly and time-consuming. UST’s Experience Design and Innovation Team helped create a virtual airport, a digital twin, in the metaverse that enabled airline employees to see, experience and evaluate the signs without leaving their offices-increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.
Upskilling airline employees
The metaverse also offers a transformative opportunity to train and upskill airline employees in a cost-effective and immersive manner. From pilots to cabin crew to baggage teams to facility staff, the metaverse can provide a virtual training environment that simulates real-world scenarios, enhances competency, and ensures the highest standards of safety and customer service.
While some companies already use VR solutions for training, this same major American airline wanted to use the metaverse to create an even more innovative and experiential educational environment. Together, UST and this particular airline created a standard process that teaches employees how to manage and monitor the passage of an unaccompanied minor with the airline to ensure that they safely reach their destination. The result is an app that’s embedded in the metaverse that provides a robust training environment with different simulations to train the airline’s employees in an array of real-world situations.
This immersive metaverse-based education environment actively teaches employees to think, react and make appropriate decisions under all kinds of circumstances when dealing with an unaccompanied minor-if a flight is canceled, if the minor gets sick, or if a plane has to make an emergency landing at a different airport, for example.
With more immersive, experiential metaverse training sessions, airlines can dramatically improve employee performance to enhance airport customer experiences. The metaverse holds immense potential to transform the airline industry and elevate customer experiences to new heights. By embracing interactive technologies, airlines can revolutionize ticketing, check-in processes, in-flight entertainment, onboard services, and even business interactions.
The metaverse has the power to create a more immersive, personalized, and seamless travel experience, making air travel more enjoyable, efficient, and memorable for passengers around the world. As technology continues to advance, it will be exciting to witness the realization of these possibilities and the evolution of the metaverse in all industries.
Get ready for the future of the aviation industry
UST's work for its airline client highlights how innovative enterprises can address challenges and test new business models in the metaverse to improve processes and services and enhance customer experiences. If you are considering or ready to start your journey toward developing immersive technology solutions, UST is here to help you. To learn more, visit ust.com.