Image by The Points Guy

This is the future of in-flight entertainment according to the aerospace giant Thales. Called Digital Sky, the prototype system provides 21-inch touchscreens that take up a huge swathe of the seat back.

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The Points Guy spotted the displays at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The site explains that the large HD screens are installed in a portrait orientation—though video plays in landscape, obviously—which means that reading magazines on the seat back is realistic (and actually rather neat) option.

While it doesn’t take up any more depth than a regular in-flight entertainment system—so legroom isn’t compromised—there is the small issue of the tray table. With so much space taken up by the screen, you’d have to balance your dinner a little more carefully than usual. A tough call: Movies or food?

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As for whether or not you’ll see this in an airplane any time soon? The Points Guy notes that Thales doesn’t have any partners signed up, though the prototype looks pretty damn polished. We can likely expect to see something a bit like this from more upmarket airlines before too long.

[The Points Guy and Thales via Engadget]