If you've flown on a Virgin Atlantic or newer British Airways plane recently you'll have noticed that the latest in-flight entertainment systems have big touch-enabled widescreen displays to enjoy films on, even when flying economy. However, compared to the system shown by specialist Thales they pale into insignificance.

If the Thales Digital Sky system appears on an aircraft near you soon, you won't need to bring an iPad or any kind of other tablet device with you, that's for sure.

Displaying its new tech at the Passenger Experience Conference in Germany, Thales offers a 21.3-inch HD touchscreen display that makes up much of the rear of a normal economy.

Cleverly though, as it would be wider than the seats in most economy cabins, it is housed vertically rather than horizontally, giving a massive, better than tablet-like experience for all passengers.

One obvious benefit is that as well as display movies and TV shows, the screen can be used to browse through magazines - such as specific airlines' own in-flight mags. Games can also be played and a gigantic moving map can transform the seat back for fliers.

According to The Points Guy website, each screen has a decent viewing angle and uses an "off-the-shelf" LCD display to keep costs down.

Whether you'll see it on flights out of the UK soon is unclear. Thales tends to supply the entertainment to companies like United and Qatar. It's definitely one to watch. Literally.

Sections Gadgets