January 13, 2017 -
In a new article, Future Travel Experience highlighted several new and emerging technologies including biometrics, AI, blockchain, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can help airlines and airports improve customer experiences.
Biometrics is one of the leading technologies being tested and implemented by airports and airlines, including the use of biometric-enabled single passenger tokens, as well as fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition.
FTE highlights Air New Zealand’s introduction of the biometric-enabled bag drop, Alaska Airlines’ biometric boarding passes pilot program, and Changi Airport’s preparing for the opening of Terminal 4, which will use biometrics to help expedite processing at the key passenger touch points.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also expected to be heavily used by airlines and airports over the next 12 months, including chatbots, which are automated digital tools that communicate with customers and answer their questions in a real-time, human-like manner.
In addition, voice-based AI tools (such as the Amazon Echo device) are being used by Korean Air and other airlines to enable a more seamless travel experience, while AI is being combined with machine learning and predictive analytics to enable airlines and airports to create more personalized online interactions and marketing intelligence, such as in the areas of revenue management and ticket pricing.
Blockchain technology is still in its early adoption stages among airlines and airports, but its “privacy by design” nature ensures that data is secure, encrypted, tamper-proof and unusable for other purpose.
FTE states that blockchain technology could provide the foundation for biometric-enabled single passenger tokens, as well as digital passports.
Although multiple trials of smartglasses and smartwatches have previously failed to advance to permanent implementations, wearable technology (enterprise and consumer) continues to see interest by airlines and airports.
Japan Airlines recently trialed Microsoft’s HoloLens for supplemental training to crew and engineers, which was met with positive results by some key air transport industry players.
One final emerging technology trend is the Internet of Things (IoT). Several airports and their partners are using queue measuring sensors and BLE beacons to better manage resources and deliver destination-specific messages to travellers, and airports working to make assets more trackable to help drive operational efficiency.
As highlighted at the FTE Onboard Connectivity 2025 Think Tank, all “things” on board will likely be connected over the course of the next decade, and the health of all these components, ranging from engine performance to the IFE system, will be monitored in real-time.