I remember the first time I flew by myself, I was terrified. And the funny thing? It wasn’t about the flying, it was about the airport. I was paranoid that I wouldn’t know where to go, wouldn’t be let past security, wouldn’t be allowed onto my flight and be stuck in some strange, alien world I knew nothing about. And that’s not uncommon; I’ve met lots of people that have had similar experiences. That’s what makes the Oculus Start-backed Flight VR so intriguing.
Current in development as a collaboration between VR architectural visualisation company, Visual Lane, and art studio, Chris Bain Design, Flight is a photorealistic experience designed for people that have a fear of flying. It offers a meticulous recreation of an airport and recreates the many processes passengers have to go through before and during boarding as a means of helping people get to grips with it. No detail has been spared, right down to safety instructions displaying on a passenger’s in-flight screen before takeoff.
“VR is a perfect tool for releaving someone of the acute anxieties caused by flying,” Chris Bain himself told Upload over email. “Traditional exposure therapy can be distressing to the patient and cause even more extreme symtoms such as panic attacks and vomiting. Flight VR allows the user in enter a photorealistic 360 environment and experience air travel procedures, at their own pace, in the comfort of their own surroundings.”
As you can see in the trailer, the experience covers everything from arriving at an airport and checking your flight times to checking your luggage is the correct size for travel and passing through security gates. Eventually, you’ll board an aircraft, find your seat, stow your luggage and prepare to take off. Helpful hints appear along the way to give you as stress-free an experience as possible.
“It’s important the user has exposure to the full flying experience and part of that involves the journey through the airport/security/boarding and the sights and sounds of the airport,” Bain explained. “Many passengers with flying phobias don’t even make it to the aircraft jetway and our Flight VR allows the user to slowly build up the courage and relieve those anxieties.”
There are plenty of VR apps that utilize exposure therapy right now, but Flight easily looks like one of the most polished and intriguing we’ve yet seen.
Right now Flight VR is being developed as part of the Oculus Start program, which is designed to help smaller developers hit the ground running. Bain and co hope to turn an initial prototype into a full experience over the course of 2018, so hopefully we can get a deeper look towards the end of the year.