The metaverse can be summed up as the augmented world. So, naturally, it has implications for travel. How and when people travel may both seriously change as spatial communication and digital twins make some kinds of travel less likely, while AR and automation reimagine the travel that we do engage in. A report by Booking.com for Business, titled “The Future of Business Travel” explores the next 30 years of travel.
AR and Space Hotels
The report begins with “A Timeline of Future Business Travel Predictions.” To the potential dismay of augmented reality enthusiasts, the report puts AR in 2027 – the same year as “space hotels”. The report acknowledges existing AR use cases including augmenting areas with contextual information. However, the authors are waiting for something better.
“Right now, AR is limited, lacking a wide field-of-view and having resolution, battery, and 3D sensing issues,” reads the report. “It’s thought that by 2027 people will have access to unconstrained, immersive AR experiences and the associated advantages for travel professionals.”
Why 2027? The paper doesn’t explicitly mention powerful AR wearables, but the time frame and their insistence on “unconstrained” experiences suggest that this is what the authors are waiting for. We already have consumer AR glasses, with limited FoV, but these are almost exclusively “viewers” for virtual screens that can’t offer the real-time contextual information people want.
In a recent interview with ARPost Lumus VP of Optics David Goldman placed a consumer AR device based on Z-Lens around 2025, with 2027 seeing models with 50-degree FoV eventually getting as wide as 70 or 80 degrees. That sounds like it’s getting more in line with people’s expectations for AR travel.
More Interest in VR?
Augmented travel is one thing, but virtual travel is another. Virtual reality has higher immersion due to a heads-up interface, greater graphical fidelity, and wider field of view. Further, VR hardware is becoming increasingly accessible, affordable, and popular with consumers.
The report also included a collection of the most-searched business travel trends, which included virtual travel in the top three. A ranking of the most talked about travel trends in the media also includes “hotel metaverse” at number three and “hotel virtual events” at number eight.
The authors attribute this to virtual travel “reducing the necessary number of business trips and giving corporate travelers the chance to explore the world with VR and metaverse experience.” Specific use cases anticipated in the report include immersive tours prior to booking, virtual conferences and events, virtual site visits to digital twins, and immersive in-flight entertainment.
More to the Metaverse
Immersive technology is first in our minds and hearts here at ARPost, but the metaverse is about more than just display technologies. The report also includes predictions related to other emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and blockchain.
For example, the authors predict blockchain technology becoming standard in hotels the year before they anticipate AR kicking off. And, around the beginning of the next decade, the authors predict “guest comfort and energy efficiency will be managed and optimized by AI in most hotels.”
Other predictions, including hotel-specific crypto-driven rewards programs and robot assistants, can be found in the full report.
A Lot to Look Forward To
All predictions should be taken with a healthy dose of salt – and that’s particularly true of predictions based on when to expect a given development. Disclaimers aside, Booking.com has presented a very interesting look at trends regarding what people want out of the metaverse when it comes to travel.