Anyone who has ever tried VR experience in a car or plane knows that virtual reality can either make you nauseous or help you while away the time. None of that is discouraging Flixbus, a low-cost bus service company that has started testing Virtual Reality (VR) to some long-distance routes to and from Las Vegas.
Flixbus recently announced a three-month VR pilot program on its longer routes, specifically for passengers going from San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Passengers in the ”panoramic seats” will get the VR experience for free. Additionally, they will get a chance to try out around 50 VR games.
Once on board, passengers will get VR headsets loaded with content. The passengers will also be given instructional manuals to help them navigate the VR system on their own. The VR content is provided by inflight VR. The headset used is Pico Goblin 2 (from Pico Interactive). It has a refresh rate of 90Hz and a 3k resolution. The headset can run chess, basketball and other virtual reality games.
Inflight VR established itself by working closely with airlines-provides them with software updates and VR content thus has experience with offering a platform to travellers. Flixbus spokesperson told America’s TechCrunch that the pilot program would also focus on straighter routes. The reasoning behind it is that straighter routes reduce the risk of bad experience with virtual reality. The company spokesperson also said that VR had been positively received in France and Spain.
He concluded that if US customers like the VR experience, the European bus service is going to offer the service to everyone. Flixbus USA managing director Pierre Gourdain added that Las Vegas seemed a natural choice when the company was deciding on which routes to launch its VR pilot program.
The VR experiment by Flixbus, alongside virtual reality software companies, matches its youthful and tech-forward approach to bus travel. The European bus service launched in USA in 2018 to compete with Greyhound and other bus companies. After launching, the transportation start-up started routes across Nevada, Arizona and California. The low-cost bus service would offer rides for as low as £3 in order to compete with powerhouses such as Greyhound.
Currently, Flixbus operates in 28 countries, manages network planning, ticketing and customer services and sale of its product. Flixbus’ VR introduction is an addition to its already existing features that keep customers entertained. Other existing features include free access to WI-FI and in-seat ports for charging mobile devices.
Flixbus’ experiment is a great idea worth trying out. Playing virtual games such as 3-D basketball, diving into the bottom of Red Sea, exploring space or hanging out with a waddle of penguins in the Arctic is made possible from the comfort of your seat. Negatively, it can make you suffer from motion sickness and dizziness due to vertigo.
Supposing the pilot program is well received that is people use and enjoy it without ill effects of vertigo, the program is going to stick around longer. Nevertheless, the reception of Flixbus’ pilot program will determine whether or not Flixbus will fully integrate VR experience in its bus services in the US.