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Virtual Reality is in the air…

The new video cameras on the side of a 777 Emirates airplane are used to recreate the feeling of a window seat, even if you are seating in a middle seat. Notice: it works only in first class…. Credit: Emirates

At the recent Dubai Airshow 2017 Emirates has presented its new first class cabin, to fly early next year which includes virtual reality windows to smooth the flight of the poor fellows that cannot get a real window seat…

The aircraft is equipped with three camera per side that capture the image of what is going on out there and a software morph those images into a window shaped screen to give the feeling of … having a window seat!

I remember quite few years ago seeing a similar arrangement at the IBM research centre in US where they were showcasing a 4k screens disguised as a normal window. The 4k resolution matches the one of our eyes and it may trick us into believing that we are actually seeing a window and not a screen.

In Japan the “Hanami” (blossom season, usually referred to cherry blossoming, sakura, but sometimes also to plum blossoming ) is followed by television networks, even during night time, “yozakura”, by having paper lanterns illuminating the blossoms. Quite a few Japanese hang 4k television screens on their walls, disguised as windows, to enjoy the blooming as it moves from Okinawa in the South to Hokkaido in the North, providing viewing pleasure from early March to late May.

What I like in this (pretty expensive) setting created by Emirates is the blending of technology into an ambient, transforming it to provide the impression of being in a different place.  This is something that architects have been striving over the centuries. Now they have more tools, leveraging on technology, at their disposal.

I am pretty sure that our homes will become virtual and augmented reality stages. They will be able to flank our mood, and hopefully improve it, by creating a virtual space opening on what we like and makes sense at that time.

Technology is available, it is just a tad too expensive to find the way in our homes. We are likely to see it entering malls, shops, restaurants first, but in the next decade it will slowly enter our living space at home and by the third decade of this centuries new homes will embed augmented reality spaces as they have a bathroom today (which they didn’t 100 years ago!).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.