FlixBus uses VR to take the yawn out of long journeys
Even when plugged into a portable music player or playing games on a smartphone, long bus journeys can be tedious. If you ride a FlixBus on select routes to and from Las Vegas, you could find yourself being offered a VR headset, to transport you to other worlds while the driver takes you where you need to go.
FlixBus has its roots in Europe but launched in the US on May 31, 2018, offering passengers free Wi-Fi, power outlets at every seat and complimentary onboard entertainment. The latest flavor of the latter is the FlixVR experience.
The service launched last month for passengers who reserve "panoramic seats" on long distance buses operating out of and to Las Vegas. Such passengers won't be charged any extra for the trip-long loan of the equipment but will be offered around 50 virtual reality gaming, cinematic and travel experiences to help eat up the long hours aboard the bus.
"We are excited to launch the first long-distance virtual reality bus experience, in cooperation with Inflight VR and Pico Interactive," said FlixBus USA's Pierre Gourdain. "At FlixBus, we are always brainstorming ways to make the travel experience for our passengers more comfortable, entertaining and tech-forward. We hope #FlixVR brings a little extra entertainment to the travelers heading to and from Vegas."
The service is currently available on six routes for a trial period of 3 months, including from downtown LA to downtown Vegas and Tempe to the Las Vegas Strip. If a VR reservation is made during the booking process, passengers will get a Pico Goblin 2 headset loaded with Inflight VR content, along with instructions.
The standalone VR headsets are reported to offer 3K resolution and four hours of use per battery charge.
Of course, there is the issue of nausea some people can experience when wearing a VR headset while on terra firma. Combined with road travel, that could result in an unpleasant and maybe even messy ingredient to the long journey.
"FlixBus and Inflight VR have done several test drives, not just in Europe but also in the US, in which we tested the impact of the bus movements on each trip," the company told us. "Within the Inflight VR platform, there is an easy to find re-center function implemented or a physical re-center button at the Pico headset can be pressed.
"The whole UI is controllable via slight head movements so that no other input device is needed and the entire experience is designed into the FlixBus cabin environment to avoid bothering neighbors. We also specifically chose our routes in and out of Las Vegas and they are some of the straightest drives, limiting the chance for motion sickness.
"Likewise, on our test drives we surveyed passengers about any motion sickness issues and were very pleased that few customers had complaints. Of course, if motion sickness in general is an issue for an individual, we advise caution."