FCM's Innovation Spotlight: October

Travel News 24 Oct 2017

Our monthly insight into all things #TravelTech related. The latest on new technology launching and being talked about across the business travel industry.

Dubai Airport announces Virtual Aquarium security-screening

Dubai International Airport has announced an innovative new security check system. They will be phasing out human security checks in favor of biometric scanning. While many airports are introducing biometrics into their security mix, what makes the Dubai case so unusual is that the data will be gathered using a virtual aquarium. Travelers will walk through a hall with an entire underwater landscape projected onto the walls, fish and all.  While they look at the display, their faces will be scanned by 80 cameras which will verify their identity. The fish serve the purpose of enticing visitors to turn their heads and give the cameras more angles to assist in matching facial data. The new feature isn’t limited to an aquarium. Operators can switch to other virtual scenes designed to achieve the same result.  This security system is due to be operational in terminal 3 of the airport before the end of 2018, with launches planned in the other terminals by 2020.  Pre-registration at one of the kiosks around the airport is necessary so that the system knows what face to look for, but other than that no human authentication should need to take place.


Istanbul’s New Airport to feature advanced bag-tracking technology

The new airport being constructed in Istanbul has announced the implementation of advanced baggage tracking technology that will make it one of the most efficient in the world as well as one of the busiest after its planned opening in early 2018. The data from this tracking system will help find misplaced bags more quickly, but will also enable operators and airlines to identify trouble spots to enable further improvement. New Istanbul Airport will have capacity for 90 million passengers a year, with a four-phase expansion already planned to bring it up to 200 million. This easily surpasses Turkey’s existing international airports, Sabiha Gökcen servicing nearly 30 million per annum while Atatürk International sees roughly 60 million a year, the latter earmarked for closing as it is replaced by the new complex. Estimates from SITA say this would require tracking of more than 75,000 bags an hour. The new technology will track bags at crucial points of their journey from check-in to transfer to arrival, all while updating the database in real time. 


New language-translating earbuds from Google.

Google has announced new earbuds that will enable real-time translation powered by Google Translate and Apple Assistant. Wearers simply touch the right earbud to receive instant translations from their spoken language to any of the 40 languages currently integrated into the platform. They can then speak out loud what they hear from their earbuds. They can also get the person they are talking to speak into the phone and receive a translation from the earbuds. Google says that 40 languages are just the beginning, aiming to expand the systems capabilities in the future to cover more. This could help overcome one of the great and lasting challenges with travel, the inability to communicate effectively with the people around you. Right now the function requires internet access, which could be problematic in areas where you don’t have mobile data. Still, this new and innovative technology could have tremendous value to the travel industry in years to come.


Virgin Group invests in Hyperloop Technology

British entrepreneur Richard Branson has announced that Virgin Group will be investing in Hyperloop One, one of the companies developing the Hyperloop technology proposed by Elon Musk in 2013. The company will be rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One and Branson will join the board. Hyperloop One has built a demonstration and test track section and conducted a variety of highly publicized tests recently, exposure that has brought $85 million in new funding from Virgin and others. By propelling pods through a vacuum inside a tube with the force of electromagnetism the technology is projected to allow travel over ground at 600 to 700 miles per hour, eclipsing the speeds offered by commercial airlines. Although still very much in development and testing this technology could be an important part of our transport mix in years to come.