The London Eye is to be fitted with a “superpod” featuring video screens and wi-fi internet connection as part of a £12.5 million makeover.
The attraction's owner, Merlin Entertainments Group, is about to embark on a three-year project to “futureproof” the Eye with a range of features designed to improve the experience of riding in the glass capsules.
In an experiment to gauge public reaction, one of the 32 pods will have four screens providing information on the landmarks visible on the London skyline during the half-hour trip. Technicians are also testing the feasibility of up to 800 passengers at a time being able to download music and multilingual audio commentary to mobile phones and other devices.
Kevin Dyer, Merlin's head of technical development, said the key was to see whether the technology could enhance visitors' experience without ruining the calm atmosphere on board the capsules. He said: “Our guests over the last 10 years have told us they prefer a calm experience where they can enjoy the unobstructed views over London. But that's changing a little bit and some people want more in the way of commentary and visual guides.
The facelift is due to be completed in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Some 33 million people have been on the Eye since it opened in 2000, making it Britain's most popular paid for visitor attraction.