Pre-flight safety demonstration: Interactive app makes boring part of air travel fun

The free app turns air safety into an interactive game

Ravneet Ahluwalia
Thursday 27 July 2017 10:46
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Air Safety World: Official teaser

A new app promises to revolutionise the most boring part of flying, the dreaded pre take-off safety lecture.

Air Safety World is a free app with cute graphics and quirky jokes which could help modernise airline safety manuals and increase passenger engagement, making us all safer as we fly.

The project is the work of Italy’s University of Udine’s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab, who developed the programme to make safety instructions clearer and more fun so passengers would be more likely to pay attention.

Professor Luca Chittaro who heads the team at the HCI Lab explains why they believe it’s so important. “Research on traditional airline safety briefing media like safety cards and videos has highlighted that they are scarcely effective for two main reasons: lack of passenger’s attention and lack of passenger’s comprehension,” he says.

In the app two virtual flight attendants guide you through a series of interactive training procedures, that you‘ve probably heard of but never fully understood. For example users are asked to put a simulated passenger in the correct brace position, moving their limbs and head using the touch screen on your phone or tablet. You are graded on your answer and the app then shows you the correct position. Other parts of the training programme include putting on your oxygen mask and life jackets correctly and finding and opening the exit doors.

Air Safety World teaches you the basics step by step

As well as being interactive Air Safety World also gamifies the process. It allows you to play a series of games to test out your new skills, including the delightfully named Door Ninja where a player is tasked with opening a series of emergency exit doors on a timed course. In another challenge, players are asked to coordinate a cabin evacuation, complete with difficult passengers who keep trying to hold on to their hand luggage. Users collect points which they can use to build and fly a fleet of planes around the world.

The ability to personalise the experience for passengers is another feature of the app. Cabin crew could tailor instructions depending on passengers' scores and airlines could modify the app to provide realistic models of the planes travellers are sitting on – complete with correct branding and exact positions of exits and equipment.

HCI has experience in the airline safety app arena. It launched Prepare for Impact last year, which simulates real-life air disasters from a passenger point of view. The app was designed to be played off-board as it walks users through scenarios such as an emergency landing in water, a fire on board or a collision during take-off. Players are able to control their character and are given instructions on how to best survive the incident.

Prepare for Impact simulates real life disasters

Chittaro is positive about the technology. “One study has shown that making the briefing highly interactive improves participant’s performance in the real world, he said.

“Thanks to increased on-board connectivity, the time is right for next-generation airline instructions.”

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