Speed Reads

Window Seat Waylay

The future of air travel may be windowless — but with even better views

"Window or aisle seat?" The question is practically as old as air travel itself — but if a new technology from the U.K.-based Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) catches on, the passenger planes of the future may be completely windowless.

But if you're a traveler who loves to stare out at the heavens from your 30,000-foot perch, fear not: By developing an ultra-thin, lightweight, and flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display screen, CPI aims to replace the traditional airplane window with a floor-to-ceiling livestream of the outside world, fed by cameras mounted on the outside of the jet. CPI anticipates the effect would look something like hurtling through the sky in a big glass tube:


There's a practical motivation for turning a passenger plane's walls into a giant video screen. Eighty percent of a plane's flying weight is its structure and its fuel; eliminating windows allows for a thinner fuselage, less fuel consumption, lower emissions, and even wider seats in a roomier cabin. Another advantage is customizable displays, as an individual could direct their "window seat" to display images from any side of the plane, meal service data, or in-flight entertainment.

CPI spokesman Dr. John Helliwell told Business Insider the technology will take roughly 10 years to bring to the next generation of commercial aircraft. In the meantime, learn more about the technology in the promotional video below — and give yourself something to daydream about when you're angling for a view out of the tiny glass portals on your next flight. --Mike Barry