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The Internet of Travel: What will IOT and AI mean for the industry?

For several years now, the Internet of Things (IOT) and artificial intelligence (AI) has been referred to repeatedly as game changers. But what do they actually mean?

 

As broadband internet has become ubiquitous, faster speeds enable items to be connected to it, transmitting information back and forth. This is the internet of things and it is exciting for many reasons. Some of these include automating small tasks such as replenishing stock, monitoring performance, checking journey updates while en route, the list goes on and on.

 

Artificial intelligence provides computers with the ability to learn and respond accordingly without the need to be programmed specifically. A common example of this is the use of chatbots, which are commonly used on major websites’ chat features to help users with simple service requests online without the need to speak to a live agent.

 

Where are we now?

The Bakery, a London innovation accelerator agency, hosted an event for experts to came together to discuss the future of IOT. Brooke Roberts, an expert in smart textiles and founder of BRIA, stated that 50 billion objects will be connect to the internet by 2020. A key challenge for industry is how to connect different types of objects – diversifying from the obvious contenders such as large items of hardware. That is where some really exciting opportunities could emerge.

 

For example, creating softer materials that can respond to physical needs to make people more comfortable or help them to heal is something that Roberts’ company, BRIA, is researching and developing. Future goals for these technologies include textiles for personally augmented spaces in transportation, ensuring a bespoke comfortable space during your journey to improve traveller wellbeing. Something that every frequent traveller yearns for!

 

Where are we going?

At the same event Daniel Gratiot, chief design officer at Third Space Auto, predicted that we are at the tip of the iceberg of this exciting new era. He believed that we are on the cusp of many under the surface tech enhancements that will each subtly improve the lives of people.

 

The IOT will give us the power to “reach inside” things, to automate or streamline processes. It really has huge potential to make the travel process more convenient for everyone.

 

Dawning of a new aviation era

London City Airport is gearing up to be the first airport in the world to deploy IOT technologies. According to IBM’s Internet of Things Blog, the airport will use it to “manage passenger movements, measure journey times, deliver gate reminders on smartphones, find missing passengers and luggage, and locate travellers in emergency situations.”1

 

Possible pitfalls?

As new applications and technologies are launched, compliance and security issues are brought to the forefront, so engineers and designers are cognizant of these factors and designing systems and products which don’t expose users and organisations to risk.

 

Also, the curse of the low battery could be a thing of the past as near-field communication (more commonly known as NFC) technologies that can generate their own power are currently under development and could mitigate the need for a battery at all in some cases.

 

Living the frequent traveller’s dream

Maybe in ten years’ time, the traveller experience will be a very different one to that of today.

 

As you pick up your automated, pre-ordered coffee - made just how you like it  -on the way to your departure gate as flagged up on your smartwatch, and you are guided to your seat which has been pre-configured to your ergonomic requirements based on data recorded from your last flight, the time when we had to factor the time to do all these things could be a distant memory!