Panasonic Avionics, the world leader in inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) solutions, wanted a new immersive way to visualise how hardware configuration options will influence their Airline Customers’ passenger experience. Intended for Panasonic’s global products, sales and marketing teams, this new tool had to be highly portable and easy to operate while delivering lifelike environments. This proof of concept was to be introduced to all major airlines and industry partners visiting the Panasonic booth for the 2016 Aircraft Interior Expo in Hamburg.
Having already developed a cross-platform mobile version of the Cabin Configurator, Neutral Digital, software and visualisation partner of Panasonic Avionics, was chosen to design and develop this new experience. Leveraging our mobile Virtual Reality production and delivery expertise and decade of creating CG visualisation for the avionics industry, we proposed a Mobile VR experience using the Samsung Gear VR and built using Unity.
We set out to create four cabins, First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy, used to render the environment along with the various hardware options and generate hyper-real 360° stereo renders. Although 360° stereo renders complicates the post-processing pipeline, they deliver a much higher level of immersion by bringing back the sense of depth.
We designed and developed a User Journey and User Interface for VR from the ground. Focused on simple and intuitive interactions and comfort, ensuring minimal head strain while navigating the various cabins and exploring the hardware options.
Pre-processing the 360° assets was key to ensuring instant updates when toggling the various options and navigating though the cabins. Reducing the number of images necessary to deliver the experience and ensuring a perfect compression to quality ratio helped reduce the final size of the app and its resources consumption. Both critical to a mobile delivery.
A virtual assistant was key to an engaging and immersive user experience. Once fitted with a VR headset any interactions with the “real” world pulls users out of their virtual experience. Therefore having all help and instructions delivered seamlessly in VR was crucial. We scripted and filmed a set of video messages to compliment every steps of the journey. The virtual assistant was just a tap away throughout the experience.
The final experience was assembled in Unity, bringing together the 360° stereo environments, hundreds of hardware options, world space VR UI and the video assistant overlays.
Our team was on hand to help manage this experience throughout the three days launch event at AIX in Hamburg. The response was overwhelmingly positive from Panasonic products and line managers, sales and marketing, their airline customers and industry partners.
There are already 10 units in use by Panasonic to engage their airline customers around the world.