En route across the country, passengers jammed together like sardines in an airplane cabin sit back and relax. The screen in front of them responds to their eye movements, allowing them to play games, explore virtual environments, and even tour the destination airport to find their connecting gates. The channels change with blinks or eye gestures. It seems like something out of a science fiction movie, but the truth is this technology could be available publicly in the next few years.
Panasonic Avionics, a world leader for in-flight entertainment (IFE), is exploring eye tracking technology alongside gesture and voice control to expand airplane passengers’ onboard environment. Of the three methods, eye tracking seems the most promising, offering the least obtrusive method for screen control. Additionally, Panasonic’s eye tracking IFE prototype system, showed off at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2012 in Hamburg, demonstrated the system’s ability to allow users to explore various virtual environments with only their eye movements. Some of these environments included real-world areas, such as airport terminals or cities, and others were completely fabricated.
Either way, eye tracking may be the next step in air travel entertainment. Though Panasonic Avionics has not set a launch date for an eye tracking system, they are receiving a lot of positive feedback from airlines. According to the company, we can expect to see this technology becoming available within the next two years.
Keep your eyes out. Next time you fly, you may be choosing your in-flight movie with your eyes instead of a remote control.