Flights Of Fancy
Business Traveler|May 2017

What lies ahead for air travel may be found at the Future Travel Experience today.

Technology’s ever-widening reach continues to drive rapid – and surprising – changes in the world around us. A host of new capabilities such as robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are already here, and seem set to disrupt nearly every aspect of daily life, including – and perhaps especially – travel.

Travel industry trade shows are often where we are introduced to the practical applications of the latest technological developments. One such recent event was Future Travel Experience Asia EXPO 2016, held in October in Singapore. At events like these we can discover advances and innovations – from biometric scanning to computer visualization to the effective use of big data – that may change the way we fly in the near and distant future.

CONCEPT CABIN

Airbus has put a fair amount of time into researching future tech developments for the aviation sector. Its The Future by Airbus report published back in 2010 looks at how the industry may look in the year 2050.

A number of the leaps forward in that report pertain to making air travel more eco-friendly; however the aircraft manufacturer’s “Concept Cabin” highlights just how radically different the passenger experience could become three decades hence. Perhaps most notable is the manufacturer’s notion that traditional class tiers could one day be replaced by zones based on individual travelers’ interests, ranging from having business meetings with people from around the world to areas offering relaxation and activities.

The Vitalising Zone, for instance, would include seats surrounded by a bionic structure with membranes that could turn transparent at the wave of a hand, offering panoramic views outside the aircraft. In the Interaction Zone, touch sensitive panels could scan and download information about individual passengers, offering them a bespoke experience ranging from virtual reality golf, tennis and baseball to interactive virtual shopping.

ROBOTIC ASSISTANCE

In October, SITA Labs – the technology research arm of IT firm SITA – toured its autonomous, self-propelled baggage robot in Singapore and Hong Kong. Named Leo after the famed Renaissance-era inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, the automaton represents the company’s look into the future of baggage handling for commercial flights.

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