Aviation industry experts utilized the 15th edition of Airport Show in Dubai to provide amazing insights into the new technologies that are set to bring about sweeping changes in the global aviation industry soon.
Speaking at the Innovation Podium, Stephane Cheikh, Innovation Manager at the Switzerland-based SITA Lab, said Microsoft HoloLens, Amazon Echo Smart Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA), ticket sales through the networking platforms Facebook and Twitter and online booking through portals like Rocketrip are expected to reshape the air travel industry.
Airports and airlines are turning to cutting-edge technologies and solutions to cut operation costs and improve their profitability while meeting the expectations of the air travellers whose number will reach 6.6 billion by 2020.
Technology is making a major impact on the aviation industry globally and major aviation hubs like the UAE whose airports handled over 101 million passengers in 2014.
He said: “The US companies are projected to spend $310 billion on business travel this year. Airbnb launched a business platform that offers 500,000 rooms spread across 190 countries. Uber too launched a business edition. Startups like Rocketrip helps companies reduce travel spending by rewarding employees for saving. As the future evolves there will be a big change and big companies will make bigger impact. It will force many businesses to re-evaluate travel policies and conventions.”
Cheikh said technologies like Smart Glasses and Smart Watches arrived with big promises and their impact continues to rise. However, security and privacy will continue to be barriers in their popularity. Virtual reality will be popular as it is now available at affordable prices to consumers thanks to advancements in areas like Smartphone and video games.
He expressed confidence there will be further gains in the popularity of Microsoft HoloLens used for air traffic control, flight planning (including weather predictions) and airport management. This one has lots of potential. Amazon Echo Smart virtual personal assistant, though farfetched, is always ready, connected and fast -just ask and it will predict.
He said Mobile payment has been gaining popularity with more and more people using the latest technology.
Talking about the new payment mechanisms, he said that Facebook payment has arrived and will create wider impact in the coming years.
“Although, it currently allows a transfer of maximum $20, the limit can be increased. Similarly, Twitter is also there now selling tickets for concerts and one can think how much impact it will create if the sale of airline tickets are started. It is certainly going to make a big impact,” he remarked.
SITA Lab is now testing a robot to enable passengers check-in outside the airport and then take the luggage to the luggage belt area. Also, imagine a fleet of autonomous robots at your airport, reducing luggage inside the airport and increasing passenger satisfaction.
Virtual Assistants at airports
Tensator’s Virtual Assistant, available at the Dubai International Airport, is ten times more effective than other forms of digital signage, the company’s senior official said. With increasing number of air travelers, it has become a challenge to manage passenger flow in high footfall areas. Thus some airports are using virtual assistants that give the airports competitive advantage.
Abdel Aziz Rahal, General Manager of Tensator, said “Tensator’s Virtual Assistant has become one of the most important digital signages available in the market that also creates the wow factor as it is ten times more effective at influencing behavioral change than other forms of digital signage. The Virtual Assistant is a unique and engaging way to present informational and instructional messages. It has the wow factor and brings messages to life, influencing behavioral change by making people stop and take notice. The Tensator Virtual Assistant offers carefully considered design and engineering – making it the global leader in this kind of technology.”
Tensator Virtual Assistant is multilingual with an ability to communicate in any language including sign language, influences behavioural change as it connects with the audience providing an entertaining, engaging experience and delivers consistent and clear audio-visual messages. Its interactive tool, the touch screen, can be used as a virtual helpdesk, allowing up to 11 messages for communication, way finding, FAQ, help and advice. Its proximity sensor enables presence detection and measures messages delivery to the target.
Shifting display paradigm at airports
Apart from physical and personal experiences, contextual information like What, Where, How, When will continue to be the lead factors for passengers experience at airports and this calls for setting up latest signage display system fixed at right places, said Audai Altaie, Regional Director of Sales (Middle East & Africa) at LG.
He said: “Emergency notification with easy navigation for passengers as well as using real time information create unique experience and enhance the airport passenger experience. Theindustry trends are moving from Flight Information Display System (FIDS) to non-FIDS, video wall adoption, outdoor extensions, signage in duty free and retail space.”
He also pointed out that airline operators are getting more aggressive by adopting new technologies to manage passenger growth and create non-aeronautical revenue sources.
In their drive to generate non-aeronautical revenues, airports are using big screens for advertising, retail food and beverage as well as retail merchandise like duty free and special merchandise. This shifting trends highlight the need for innovative transportation solution like remote control, long distance contents transmission, easy installation, cost saving and SI System customization.
BorderXpress, the world’s first self-service border control solution that accepts all passports and doesn’t require pre-registration or fees, is set to revolutionize the passenger experience at border control (immigration counters) at the airports in various regions, including the Middle East. Paul Mewett, Director – Innovative Travel Solutions at Vancouver Airport Authority, said that most countries nowadays use eGate services, but that has limitations due to various requirements. About five per cent passengers use the Trusted Traveller Programme and about 25 per cent use the eGates. The remaining 70 per cent market is yet to be tapped, he added.