The wave of technological revolutions sweeping across the world is unlike anything humanity has ever experienced. The global scope of the changes means that every industry is in danger of disruption, including the airline industry. It is, therefore, imperative to identify and adopt all the new and emerging technology in air travel designed to improve both efficiency and customer experience or risk falling behind.
Below are the technologies reshaping or poised to redefine air transport.
Blockchain technology was initially dismissed because it was associated with Bitcoin, the first virtual currency. Despite negative reviews from high profile personalities and financial institutions, the ingenious invention of blockchain has continued to defy naysayers. The value of Bitcoin has shot through the roof in 2017 as the currency gains acceptance in industries that were initially reluctant to embrace it. Several airlines including Virgin Airline and CheapAir.com allow travelers to buy airline tickets with Bitcoin.
Although blockchain technology is still a relatively new technology, its incorruptibility could be used as a basis for digital passports and biometric-enabled single token platforms.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has been around for quite a while and has been used in varying degrees in self-driving cars, drones, and virtual assistants. An exponential increase in computing power coupled with the availability of vast amounts of data means that AI will impact virtually all industries.
AI has already made its entrance into the airline industry through Chatbots, which are automated digital tools capable of carrying a conversation with customers in real time. Some forward-thinking airlines are deploying Chatbots to improve customer service by answering common customer questions.
There is more potential for AI in the airline industry, especially coupled with other technologies such as predictive analytics and machine learning. Some of the areas you can expect to see changes are in ticket pricing, revenue management, marketing intelligence, and personalized online payments.
Robotics is another emerging technology that has disrupted a myriad of industries like AI.Robots were initially introduced in the airline industry to assist in baggage handling and Car parking but are now finding more use in airport terminals. Some airlines have started using robots as customer service agents.
The role of robots in airports is expected to grow as airport administrations partner with research organizations to test robot technology in airport environments with an intention to use robots to clean, transport luggage, and relay information.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is about creating an ecosystem of computing devices implanted in objects that humans use every day to allow them to send and receive data via the internet. The aim of IoT in the airline industry is to create such an ecosystem to improve efficiency both on the ground and on board an aircraft. IoT has started taking shape on the ground with the advent of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and queue measuring sensors. On board, IoT technology will be used to keep tabs on the wellbeing and health of passengers, detect faults and relay that information to the maintenance teams and so on.