If British tech firm The Center for Process Innovation has its way, the future of aviation will involve something you won't see, and something else you can see even more of.
Confused? Imagine, if you will, boarding the cabin of a passenger plane in as early as 10 years only to find the oval windows on the sides have disappeared. In its place will be a series of touchscreen panels lining every square inch inside the fuselage, that when activated will allow you to see virtually everything outside the plane via strategically placed cameras on the aircraft's exterior. The result? A panoramic view of the skies regardless of where you're sitting inside and an auspicious distraction from enduring long flights.
Much of the windowless plane idea is feasible, although folks working on the concept realize that some of the technology isn't quite within reach yet. The flexible panels lining the interior, for example, are feasible given that curved, flat screen high-definition televisions are rather common in the market these days. But some experts on the project state that some of the elements aren't quite ready yet, such as coordinating information from the cameras to present the panoramic results.
The display part of the idea is currently possible through the use of OLED technology, short for organic light-emitting diode. These diodes are in the layer of the screen, made from a combination of organic substances that can react to electric currents from, say, the cameras outside. The reaction then combines the currents into light that is projected onto the screens for everyone to see.
OLED displays also possess a few economic and environmental advantages to the airline industry. The screens are far lighter than conventional windows on planes these days, making for a lighter plane, which requires less fuel for propulsion. Windows also stick out from the fuselage exterior, which increases drag on a plane in flight. Swapping out windows for OLED screens makes the aircraft far more aerodynamic.
If the outside view gets boring, giant cinematic presets like a beach scene, a rainforest or the skyline of Paris might also be available as a distraction. But one minor advantage might reduce some squabbling before boarding: no more fighting for a window seat.