Emirates plans to make virtual windows the norm on all of its future planes–but to succeed, it will need to balance great UX with logistical efficiency.
If you think too hard about what it means to fly in an airplane–hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles an hour, thousands of feet above the ground, in a giant metal tube–you might not be able to stomach flying at all. And if planes didn't have windows, they might feel even more claustrophobic. Nonetheless, windowless planes are coming, and they could make planes lighter–and thus cheaper to fly. But they also represent a UX challenge for designers: How do you convince people to get on a plane where they can't see the world outside?
This week, Emirates unveiled a first-class cabin, aboard its Boeing 777-300ER planes, that has only virtual windows made up of digital screens that display the landscape as fiber-optic cameras outside the plane record it. As Emirates's president Tim Clark told the BBC, the airline's goal is to bring fake windows to all airplanes in the future.