As travel technology continues to advance, those who are part of the industry, or engage in it, are always looking for the latest and greatest. From biometrics and robots to virtual entertainment and security, 2019 is the year that we will see these technologies and others (hopefully) grow and be integrated into more and more airports and airplanes.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these tech trends that are not only important for the industry, but also the most meaningful to the travel community.
Biometrics has become an integral part of everyday technology. We use it on our phones when we log in via facial recognition or fingerprint, it’s embedded in our passports for security purposes, and more recently, airlines and airports are using it to let people pass through border control, check into flights and even board a plane. This year, we will probably see more airlines adopt the ticketless boarding experience (using facial recognition to board a flight). More airports throughout the country and the world will integrate biometrics at border control for safe and easy entry and exit for citizens and legal residents.
Another tech trend that has started to expand in the travel industry is robots, which can currently be found in various airports around the world. If you’ve been to SEA, MUC or ICH, you may have seen different types of robots that assist passengers with finding a nearby restaurant, checking their gate information, or even walking with the traveler to their gate while speaking to them in a familiar language, be it Spanish, Chinese, English, French, etc..
This year, we may see these robots out and about working on other tasks such as handling luggage and carts, aiding current cargo workers. It’s important that these robots don’t try to replace workers, but help them provide an even better travel experience as-needed.
AI and VR
A few airlines have already adopted AI (artificial intelligence) and VR (virtual reality). For instance, Air France business class customers can enjoy watching entertainment with their VR glasses provided by the airline, as well as book their ticket, view the lounge and check in using AI. Alaska Airlines and Qantas also offer headsets for business and first class passengers to enjoy VR entertainment onboard, whereas Emirates uses AI to allow passengers to view their seat and cabin via their computer before they book a ticket.
These tech trends are growing at a fast pace and this year may be the year where other carriers join in on providing customers an entirely new and seamless experience with AI and VR that is even more personalized. And let’s not limit this to airplanes and computers either, it’s important for airports to further adapt these two amazing technologies in terminals, lounges (of which there are a few that already use them) and checkin counters.
“Alexa…check me into my flight.” Sound familiar? This is a command that is in its early stages, but Virgin Australia has already taken the first leap in allowing their customers to check into a flight using Amazon Alexa. Heathrow International Airport also uses the same technology to allow travelers to check their flight information and receive updates throughout the airport.
The future for voice technology is huge. It provides people with a seamless and personalized experience that can greatly benefit an airline and their customers, as well as airports and anyone who passes through them. But Amazon Alexa isn’t the only one, Google and Siri can seriously change the game if they can get into the space in 2019—the sooner, the better!
Tech for the Visually Impaired
For decades, traveling for those who are visually impaired was not an easy task. Getting around the airport without someone helping them will soon be a thing of the past. Airports like SEA, LHR, IAH, and EDI are changing the game by providing support to visually impaired and blind travelers via an app and special glasses to help get them around the airport. It’s an amazing technology and a trend we hope will boom this year. No one should be left out, which is why this technology is meaningful to the travel community.
What tech trend are you looking forward to the most this year?