Futuristic airports are coming: AI facial recognition, biometric scanners

Illustration of an airport sign that says "The future"

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

According to a new report, airports are expected to become smoother and more efficient, even as they get busier and bigger to meet growing demand.

Because matter: As the place where many journeys begin and end, airports are a vital cog in the economy. Yet they are also the source of many of our travel frustrations, flight delays, security bottlenecks and poor customer service.

  • But airports may end up being a place where we actually enjoy hanging out even if we’re not traveling.

What is going on: A passenger experience “revolution” is on the way in the next decade, according to a new report from the Oliver Wyman Forum, the research arm of the global consultancy of the same name.

  • “Our travel experience is about to become seamless, touchless, enjoyable, fast, and personalized,” study lead author Rana Nawas tells Axios.
  • “And we’re on track to make it less polluting,” he adds, as airlines start switching to sustainable aviation fuels and airports electrify ground equipment.

Details: Oliver Wyman researchers have identified the major trends influencing the future of airports from sustainability goals to transformative technologies to predict what to expect in 2030, 2040 and 2050.

What they found: Even by the end of this decade, airports could be profoundly different, with more personalized passenger services.

  • Think virtual queues or food delivered to your gate, plus more places to relax and shop.

Progress: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport are among the first airports in North America to test virtual queues, which allow travelers to skip the line at security by making a digital reservation for TSA screening .

  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport has added a massive futuristic departure board that uses facial recognition technology to show travelers personalized information about their flight.
  • Uruguay’s Carrasco International Airport is the first fully digital airport in Latin America, with biometric journeys from curb to gate, according to Oliver Wyman.

What’s next: Many airports are rapidly moving towards “touchless” technology using facial recognition, artificial intelligence, automation and biometric scanners to facilitate check-in and security or immigration clearances.

  • By 2040, touchless digital ID cards could replace paper passports, confirming a passenger’s identity, travel information and immigration status.
  • Combined with biometric technology, passengers could pass through immigration and security “tunnels” at a walking pace in a completely uninterrupted journey, envisions Oliver Wyman.

If the security process is integrated with other modes of transportation, such as air taxis or fast trains, a passenger’s information could be verified even before they reach the airport.

  • And with personalized baggage collection and delivery services, passengers’ bags can be sent to the airport in advance, so they are free upon arrival.

Yes but: Such a seamless experience would require secure data sharing in a global travel industry, which could be a major roadblock.

  • “If my digital identity is shared, I need to know it’s safe,” Nawas says. “Governments around the world must accept their respective security clearances.”
  • Passengers will most likely have to opt for such services, he adds.
  • “Not everyone will want this seamless, contactless experience if it means sharing their digital identity.”

What to watch: With less airport space devoted to check-in counters or security lines, terminals will have more places to relax or shop.

  • Expect the airports to look more like Singapore’s Changi Airport, which already has ‘Jewel’, a dome-shaped attraction housing a mix of retail, leisure, garden and hotel services, as well as airport operations.
  • By linking airports with other forms of transportation, areas around airports could also be transformed, creating vibrant airport cities or “aerotropolises” with shopping malls, entertainment venues, recreational facilities and even schools, airport chief executives told Oliver Wyman. airports.

The bottom line: Airports can become more than just a place to fly, they could become destinations in and of themselves.

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Image Source : www.axios.com

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