Fa­cial recog­ni­tion and dig­i­tal are chang­ing the na­ture of travel

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents - WORDS DO­MINIC EL­LIS

From tele­coms to trans­port and ho­tels to air­lines, op­er­a­tors are em­brac­ing change as con­sumers seek more dig­i­tal con­ve­nience T he open­ing of the first two ‘walk through’ im­mi­gra­tion coun­ters in the de­par­tures ter­mi­nal of Emi­rates Ter­mi­nal 3 at Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port – so first and busi­ness class pas­sen­gers don’t need to show their pass­ports, or break their stride – is a clear sign travel is chang­ing in the ‘smart travel’ era. Re­sem­bling a longer ver­sion of the e-gates, they come fit­ted with more than 80 hid­den, hi-tech cam­eras which con­firm your iden­tity.

Fa­cial recog­ni­tion is gain­ing trac­tion at many global hubs. Lon­don Heathrow re­cently an­nounced a new £50 mil­lion bio­met­rics project, which will see fa­cial recog­ni­tion at “each point of the de­part­ing pas­sen­ger’s jour­ney”, in­clud­ing check-in, bag drops, se­cu­rity lanes and board­ing gates. A full-scale roll out of new bio­met­ric ser­vices is planned next sum­mer.

A sur­vey by SITA found 77 per cent of air­ports and 71 per cent of air­lines are ei­ther re­search­ing bio­met­rics or plan­ning to im­ple­ment pro­grammes to iden­tify trav­ellers us­ing fa­cial recog­ni­tion or other bio­met­ric means. It’s here to stay.

Bio­met­rics have the power to cre­ate a more seam­less cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence

Jet Blue has tri­alled bio­met­ric (fa­cial) board­ing at Bos­ton Air­port and Delta will soon op­er­ate the first ‘ bio­met­ric ter­mi­nal’ in the US and be able to iden­tify trav­ellers at ev­ery step from check-in to board­ing. British Air­ways, which tri­alled bio­met­ric gates at Heathrow Ter­mi­nal 5 last year, has ex­panded tri­als of bio­met­ric board­ing and ar­rivals tech­nol­ogy at Los Angeles, Or­lando, Miami and New York JFK.

“Bio­met­rics not only have the power to cre­ate a more se­cure world by val­i­dat­ing iden­tity with more cer­tainty, but also cre­ate a more seam­less cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Caryn Sei­d­man Becker, CEO and chair­man of air­port se­cu­rity firm Clear. “We pic­ture a not-so-dis­tant fu­ture where bio­met­rics re­place the need for cash, credit cards and phys­i­cal forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion – think health in­surance cards, ho­tel check-ins, restau­rants, car shar­ing, smart cities and more. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.”


The dig­i­tal hand­brake has been re­leased. Dubai’s RTA un­veiled its first au­ton­o­mous taxi at Gitex 2018 last month, which is be­ing pi­loted in Sil­i­con Oa­sis. Other in­no­va­tions in­clude Dubai Po­lice’s sec­ond ver­sion of a hover bike it un­veiled last year and UAE tele­coms op­er­a­tor du has part­nered with Amal Glasses to show­case smart so­lu­tions for the blind and vis­ually im­paired.

And there were ro­bots who are now com­mon­place in IT ex­hi­bi­tions if not in ev­ery­day life, al­though you can find some hard at work in places such as M So­cial Ho­tel, Sin­ga­pore.

Air­port So­lu­tions Dubai del­e­gates heard how Hyper­loop wants to “rip up the timetable” and cre­ate on­de­mand travel, which will be mu­sic to the ears of busi­ness trav­ellers. The devil may be in the de­tail, but it’s in­dica­tive of the en­trepreneurial am­bi­tion in these au­to­mated, data-driven times, where any­thing’s pos­si­ble and the ef­fi­ciency of ev­ery oper­a­tion can be as­sessed.

Smart Dubai signed a part­ner­ship with the Cen­tre for Tech­nol­ogy and Global Af­fairs at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, which will see the two en­ti­ties ex­change ex­per­tise on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, blockchain, big data, IOT and drones.

The gov­ern­ment depart­ment also teamed up with the UAE’s tele­coms reg­u­la­tor to launch the UAEPASS dig­i­tal iden­tity for ci­ti­zens, res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.


Uber’s new Safety Tool­kit de­signed to im­prove driver and pas­sen­ger se­cu­rity rep­re­sents a ‘step change’ for the ride-hail­ing app, ac­cord­ing to Sachin Kansal, Global Head of Safety Prod­uct. Speak­ing in Dubai, he said the mea­sures which are be­ing rolled out across the Mid­dle East, Europe and Africa, will boost trans­parency,

ac­count­abil­ity and pro­vide peace of mind. But af­ter a num­ber of high­pro­file in­ci­dents, he ac­knowl­edged it has work to do. “We know we can get bet­ter and we need to im­prove,” said Kansal, who is an Uber driver who has chalked up 105 trips. New fea­tures in­clude: An emer­gency but­ton Trusted con­tacts, in which trip in­for­ma­tion can be shared with five friends or fam­ily mem­bers

Safety cen­tre, which pro­vides ac­cess to Uber’s 24/7 team, GPS track­ing, rat­ing and feed­back sys­tem

Speed alerts to re­mind driv­ers to drive within lim­its

An anony­mous num­ber for con­nect­ing rid­ers and driv­ers, while main­tain­ing the pri­vacy of their own num­bers TECH FOR TOI­LETS, VIR­TUAL RE­AL­ITY AND ATM In­dus­try group Air­port Coun­cils In­ter­na­tional’s (ACI) re­cent Air­port Ser­vice Qual­ity: Air­port Clean­li­ness re­port found that clean re­strooms and ter­mi­nals had the great­est ef­fect on trav­ellers’ air­port rat­ings. “If you want a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, clean bath­rooms are a must,” said ACI as­so­ciate di­rec­tor Dim­itri Coll.

At­lanta’s busy Harts­field Jack­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port and LAX have in­vested in tech­nol­ogy from TRAX SmartRe­stroom, which man­ages both re­stroom cleanup and stall avail­abil­ity to cut bath­room wait times.

The sys­tem is sim­ple for trav­ellers: a red light in­di­cates an oc­cu­pied stall, which green means the stall is avail­able. In the back­ground, sen­sors track how many peo­ple en­ter and exit the re­stroom so that clean­ing crews can be alerted af­ter cer­tain thresh­olds have been met. Wash­ing­ton D.C.’s Reagan and Dulles air­ports are us­ing an app that pro­vides up­dates on re­stroom clean­li­ness.

Whether you’re a ner­vous flyer or just look­ing for a new IFE op­tion, Alaska Air­lines wants to trans­port you out of the cabin and into new worlds of vir­tual re­al­ity ( VR). The air­line is part­ner­ing with SkyLights, which pro­vides air­lines with im­mer­sive VR tech­nol­ogy, and First Class pas­sen­gers on ten flights be­tween Bos­ton and Seat­tle and Bos­ton and San Diego can test out the VR head­sets.

Brett Wei­hart, CEO, Scan­di­na­vian Moun­tains Air­port will share the ex­pe­ri­ence of ‘rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing air traf­fic man­age­ment through dig­i­ti­za­tion’ in the Global Air Traf­fic Man­age­ment con­fer­ence at Roda Al Bus­tan, Novem­ber 5-6. EMI­RATES SKY­WARDS PUTS BIG DATA TO WORK Emi­rates Sky­wards is “putting big data to work” to de­liver more per­son­alised and rel­e­vant of­fers and ex­pe­ri­ences through pre­dic­tive data modelling. As digi­ti­sa­tion in­creas­ingly dis­rupts in­dus­tries, Emi­rates says it is work­ing hard to put in­for­ma­tion and power into the hands of con­sumers. “To­day’s trav­ellers are ‘al­ways con­nected’, thanks to their mo­bile de­vices, ex­pect­ing ser­vices and

Smart tun­nels in Emi­rates Ter­mi­nal 3 de­par­tures, Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port

ABOVE: Uber out­lines its new safety mea­sures

BE­LOW: Au­to­mated taxis on dis­play at GITEX 2018

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