Hainan Airlines is distributing Rokid AR glasses for in-flight entertainment
A passenger tries on a pair of Rokid AR glasses on a Hainan Airlines flight in China.
BEIJING — Hainan Airlines this week began allowing passengers on some routes to use Rokid’s augmented reality glasses for free for in-flight entertainment, the tech startup announced Thursday.
Chinese startup Rokid has claimed that this is the first time that augmented reality glasses – which allow computer-generated images to be overlaid on the real world – have been widely used in flights. Passengers can watch 3D movies, read e-books and play simple games using the glasses, rather than doing so on a built-in screen.
Apple’s Vision Pro virtual reality headset, which is not yet available in China, comes with a “travel mode” that stabilizes motion for use on airplanes. The device allows the wearer to see the real world using what the company calls “spatial computing” technology.
Rokid’s deal with Hainan Airlines is a marketing effort to boost consumer awareness of augmented reality glasses, not a big business deal, the startup’s founder and CEO Misa Zhu told CNBC in a phone interview on Wednesday.
He claimed that Rocade is in talks “with a lot of airlines” for similar partnerships, including at least one major international operator. Chu said he was not authorized to reveal details, but he expects more announcements in the next few months.
Hainan Airlines is one of the major airlines in China and offers international flights as well. The company released a short video to promote its collaboration with Rokid.
The airline has purchased hundreds of Rokid AR glasses for passengers to use for free on more than 20 flights, Chu said. Each pair sells for just over 3,000 yuan ($420) and weighs 75 grams.
For comparison, Apple’s Vision Pro costs about $3,500 and weighs 600 grams to 650 grams.
Hainan Airlines first tested Rokid AR glasses on a commercial flight from Shenzhen to Xi’an on Wednesday, and is rolling out the devices on several other flights starting Thursday, Rokid said.
The initial trial period is set for a month, coinciding with China’s week-long Lunar New Year holiday that officially begins on Saturday, during which hundreds of millions of locals travel domestically.
“Airlines are very excited because they can offer more services, and they are very competitive,” Zhu said in Chinese, translated by CNBC.
He said Rokid is in talks to integrate augmented reality glasses into other modes of transportation, such as high-speed trains.
(Tags for translation) Travel