Airport World takes a closer look at the new HoloLens technology

Airport World takes a closer look at the new HoloLens technology unveiled at the recent Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels.

First there was ‘virtual reality’, then we were introduced to ‘augmented reality’ and now we could potentially have ‘mixed reality’ at airports, if new HoloLens technology currently being trialled by SITA comes to the market.

Initial trials of the HoloLens at Helsinki Airport apparently went well and, according to SITA, a new world is beginning to emerge where operators can use the technology to analyse and manage airport operations in a mixed reality environment.

Explaining the new technology, Jim Peters, SITA’s chief technology officer and head of SITA Lab, enthused: “Mixed Reality hits a sweet spot of having an experience that is fully immersive for the user, but unlike virtual reality also keeps that person in the real world.

“The user can interact with both and avoids the disorientation or discomfort of fully immersive virtual reality. There are benefits to having multiple people using the headset and simultaneously interacting with the same virtual display. This could be a really useful for scenario planning exercises.”

In effect, HoloLens is the world’s first self-contained holographic computer that enables users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world around them.

It runs Windows 10, and enables the blending of the physical and digital worlds in ways that were previously impossible.

SITA worked with Helsinki Airport to use HoloLens to reproduce the Airport Operational Control Centre (AOCC) in this mixed reality environment.

For this project SITA Lab used a feed from SITA’s Day of Operations technology, which is used by Helsinki Airport, and presented a new way to visualise and interact with the airport’s operational data including aircraft movements, passenger flows and retail analytics.

Demo Stands0015

Wearing the HoloLens, users had a set of screens meshed into a 3D view of the airport allowing them to correlate events from the data dashboards with an immersive real-time model of the airport.

SITA believes that this new way of looking at the world can provide new insights into how the airport is functioning.

And HoloLens also opens the possibility of being able to access the AOCC environment from any location, on or offsite, allowing experts to provide input to situations remotely.

Peters added: “Mixed reality, which combines augmented and virtual reality, is more than a new interface, it is a new way of looking at the world and allows things to be done in a new way.

“It enables digital and physical data to exist together. Our early research shows that there are potential uses for airlines and airports  for operations, maintenance and training.

“We need to learn how to interact in this new environment. In the same way that we moved from computers to smartphones and voice recognition, now we can go beyond the screen.”

Greg Jones, Microsoft’s managing director of Worldwide hospitality and travel, said: “HoloLens is now being used across various enterprises from healthcare to engineering. SITA’s work is an example of how to extend HoloLens capabilities to manage the complexity of data and decision-making in an airport environment.

“It shows how this new technology can be harnessed for the air transport industry and add value in areas from training to complex operational management.”

The SITA Lab project interfaced into multiple data sources at Helsinki Airport to create the unique view of the ever-changing operations throughout the day. This included passenger real-time location and historic density data; aircraft position data; gate information; flight status information; security wait times and retail dwell times, segmented by passenger.

SITA Lab’s early research results show that unlike virtual reality, the mixed reality experience tends not to make people feel disorientated or nauseous. The HoloLens device itself has proven easy to learn and has a good battery life and doesn’t suffer from over-heating issues.

While the technology shows potential, SITA Lab points out it is early days and before enterprise use at airports issues of weight, size and durability will need to be addressed. Users must also learn how to interact in this new environment to maximise its benefits.

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Verify: Will ‘Mobile Passport’ App Get You Through Customs Faster?

Is the “Mobile Passport” app a legitimate app that works to get you through Customs and Border Protection lines faster?


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According to Jennifer Gabris at the Office of Public Affairs for the United State Customs Border Protection (CBP), approximately 1 million travelers a day are processed through ports of entry.

In August 2014, a new state of the art app was launched by CBP called the Mobile Passport Control App launched at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Today the app is available for use in 21 airports. The app is intended to reduce passport inspection time and overall waiting time in custom related lines when traveling.

U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors who have a smartphone or tablet can download the Mobile Passport app from the Google play story then create a profile via the app, entering their passport information. This includes the traveler’s name, gender, date of birth, and country of citizenship. The passenger will then need to enter CBP questions related to inspection that are then directly submitted to the Control Border Protection through secure encryption protocols.

Since the launch of the Mobile Passport App, Control Border Protection says there have been more than 2 million downloads and more than 1.7 million trips processed with the app.

The CBP reports that a study in 2015 at Miami International Airport found that transit time for Mobile Passport Control travelers to be 15 minutes and 31 seconds faster when compared to Automated Passport Control and the average inspection time for Mobile Passport Control travelers to be 66 seconds faster when compared to APC.

Do remember that you must still present a valid U.S. passport to a Control Border Protection officer upon arrival. With the Mobile Passport app, travelers are now exempt from have to fill out a declaration form as they will answer questions electronically through their smartphone or tablet.

Here are a list of airports where MPC can be used: MPC is available to U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors at the following 21 U.S. international airports and one sea port of entry:

•     Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
•     Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
•     Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
•     Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
•     Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
•     Denver International Airport (DEN)
•     Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
•     Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
•     William P. Hobby Houston International Airport (HOU)
•     Miami International Airport (MIA)
•     Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
•     John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
•     Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
•     Orlando International Airport (MCO)
•     Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
•     Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
•     San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
•     San Jose International Airport (SJC)
•     Seattle Sea-Tac Airport (SEA)
•     Tampa International Airport (TPA)
•     Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
•     Port Everglades (PEV)

© 2017 WUSA-TV


A matter of interpretation at Helsinki and Rovaiemi

By Doug Newhouse |

Helsinki Arport translators

The new Tulka translation system.

Chinese and Russian interpreters are being made instantly available on internet-linked tablets at the Finnish airports of Helsinki and Rovaniemi to help passengers and service providers defeat language barriers when it comes to ordering goods and services.

Finnish airport operator Finavia reports that it is now testing the instant new ‘virtual interpreting service’ from Tulka, a Finnish mobile interpreting service in a series of pilot runs at Helsinki and Rovaniemi – the ‘official airport of Santa Claus’.


There has also been considerable initial interest in using the service if it proves to work well with several companies lining up to use it. Service providers currently participating include World Duty Free Helsinki, World of Delights Helsinki, Budget-Avis, Marimekko, Iittala, Vantaa Taxi and the Finavia Customer Service desks at both Helsinki and Rovaniemi airports.

Translation tablets at Helsinki Airport 2

This new multi-language service is said to be instantly accessible.

The new system will feature several languages, but concentrate mainly on Chinese and Russian customers who also happen o be amongst the very best spenders.

Finavia management – which operates 21 airports in total – says that its aim at Helsinki and Rovaniemi is to provide customers with innovative world-class services.


As such, it says the Tulka system enables it to contact a professional interpreter within seconds – both in the form of sound and image – according to Helsinki Airport Finavia’s Vice President Heikki Koski.

The airport added: “The aim of this joint project is to find out the benefits of interpretation between passengers and service providers at airports. One of the key metrics analysed in the pilot is the effect of the customer experience on customer numbers and sales volumes.

“The pilot launched in July and will continue until the end of 2017. Decisions on whether to continue the service will be made after the pilot.”


Helsinki Airport handled more than 17m passengers in 2016 and is projecting ‘up to 20m’ by 2020.

At the same time, the number of Chinese and Russian travellers has increased, with the airport now deploying increasing resources to providing information and services in Chinese and Russian – in addition to services in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Finavia currently operates 21 Finnish airports, have launched a pilot project at Helsinki Airport and in Rovaniemi.

Translation tabets at Helsinki 1

This new service is being measured on the tangibly identifiable

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Airport profits: ready to depart

Boring shops, extra security and ride-hailing hurt airports.

WHEN Heathrow airport opened, in 1946, the only retail facilities were a bar with chintz armchairs and a small newsagent’s. The first terminal was a tent, a far cry from the four halls, resembling vast shopping malls, at the London airport today. Retail spending per passenger is the highest of any airport. This summer’s consumer crazes include Harry Potter wands and cactus-shaped lilos.

Heathrow’s journey from waiting room to retail paradise is the story of many airports. Before the 1980s, most income came from airlines’ landing and passenger-handling charges. Then “non-aeronautical” revenue—from shops, airport parking, car rental and so on—rose to around two-fifths of their revenues, of $152bn worldwide in 2015. But amid signs that non-aeronautical income is peaking, especially in mature aviation markets such as North America and Europe, the industry fears for its business model.

When airports were state-owned, and run not for profit but for the benefit of the local flag-carrier, such ancillary income was less important. Airports in Asia, Africa and the Middle East still operate like this. Globally, two-thirds lose money; the share is 75% in China and 90% in India. But most airports in Europe and the Americas have to pay their own way.

Britain led the way with privatisation in the 1980s. Canada leased its major airports to private-sector entities in 1994, and is now considering whether to sell them completely. Squeezed state budgets in America mean that most publicly owned airports are managed by arms-length organisations that must break even. And a wave of privatisation is sweeping Europe, where nearly half of terminal capacity is now owned by the private sector. France’s main airports in Paris are still partly in state hands, but Emmanuel Macron, the president, aims to sell the rest. Latin American countries are following closely behind.

Their timing may be off. Although passenger numbers are still booming—growing worldwide by 6.3% last year, according to IATA, an airline-industry group—non-aeronautical revenues per person are falling across North America and Europe, a trend that is offsetting some of the rise in aeronautical revenues from higher passenger numbers.

On the retail side, some temporary factors are at work, such as a crackdown on corruption by Xi Jinping, China’s president, which has crimped sales of luxury items to high-spending Chinese. Extra security checks introduced after a run of terror attacks have cut passengers’ shopping time, and that may change in future.

Yet there are structural causes too. Tyler Brûlé, an airport-design guru and editor-in-chief of Monocle, a British magazine, notes that the duplication of nearly identical duty-free and luxury-goods outlets at airports across the world has left many passengers unexcited by the range of items on offer. The demographics of regular flyers, which have shifted towards people with less money to spare, have not helped. At the start of the year, Aéroports de Paris, Frankfurt airport and Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, announced drops in spending per passenger in 2016 of around 4-8%.

Under even greater threat, especially in North America, is income from car parks, which makes up two-fifths of non-aeronautical revenues across the continent, and car-rental concessions, which brings in a further one-fifth. At European airports the shares are 20% and 3% respectively (see chart). These businesses are being disrupted by ride-hailing apps, mainly Uber and Lyft, which make travel by taxi more affordable compared with renting or parking a car at the airport. In the past year, revenues from parking have fallen short of forecast budgets by up to a tenth, airport managers say, and next year they expect worse results. Many airports at first tried to ban Uber’s and Lyft’s cars from their taxi ranks, but drivers found a way round it, in some cases picking up rides from nearby houses. Now more are allowing Uber and Lyft to use their facilities.

The likely direction of new technology and environmental regulation will continue to sap revenue from parking and car hire, reckons Francois-Xavier Delenclos of BCG, a consultancy. Because airports must meet local air-pollution targets, they will discourage passengers from using cars with internal combustion engines. Heathrow, for instance, wants the share of passengers using public transport to reach the airport to increase from 41% to 55% by 2040; many American airports have similar targets. Even the adoption of electric self-driving cars will offer little respite. After dropping off passengers, they will be able to take themselves home.

Revenues are stagnating just when airports in America and Europe need more cash to expand, to cope with demand for flights. Without expansion beyond current plans, by 2035, 19 of Europe’s biggest airports will be as congested as Heathrow today, which operates at full capacity, according to Olivier Jankovec, director-general of ACI Europe, a trade group in Brussels. In America the Federal Aviation Administration, a regulator, estimates that congestion and delays at the country’s airports cost the economy $22bn in 2012. This will rise to $34bn in 2020 and $63bn by 2040 if capacity is not increased. Meanwhile, the cost of airport construction is rising more than twice as fast as general inflation, mainly due to rising costs of specialised labour.

For those tramping through airports, this is bad news. Without space for extra airlines, established carriers can raise their fares without fear of new competitors moving in. Neither are incumbent airlines keen to foot the bill for expansion. IAG, an Anglo-Spanish group, is fighting plans to levy higher landing fees on its airlines, including British Airways, to pay for new runways at Heathrow and in Dublin. Expect to see more battles like this, for lilos and duty-free Smirnoff vodka cannot pay for all the terminals and runways that America and Europe need.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Losing altitude”

Autonomous wheelchairs arrive at Japanese airport

 Passengers with limited mobility will soon be able to navigate airports more easily

Thanks to Panasonic’s robotic electric wheelchair. Developed as part of a wider program to make Japan’s Haneda Airport more accessible to all, the wheelchair utilizes autonomous mobility technology: after users input their destination via smartphone the wheelchair will identify its position and select the best route to get there.

Multiple chairs can move in tandem which means families or groups can travel together, and after use, the chairs will ‘regroup’ automatically, reducing the workload for airport staff. The chairs also use sensors to stop automatically if they detect a potential collision.

The chairs will be tested between now and March 2018 alongside a number of other initiatives devised by Panasonic and NTT. Other programs include eliminating language barriers through smartphone object recognition technology (so just point your smartphone at a sign for a translation), reducing passenger congestion through crowd analysis technology and clearer intelligent audio signage for those with impaired vision…

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Miami becomes first worldwide to provide fast entry process via app

Miami International Airport (MIA) is the first airport in the world to bring the convenience of Mobile Passport Control,

the fast entry process into the USA, into its own airport app experience.

US citizens and Canadian visitors arriving into Miami can now use the MIA Airport Official app to submit details to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and simply receive a barcode on their phone to present for clearance.
This convenient service, developed by global air transport IT provider SITA and certified by US CBP for Mobile Passport Control, speeds up the entry process into the USA. As an integral part of MIA’s official app, the new mobile service builds on the personal travel assistant experience already being offered to Miami’s passengers.
“The goal of our mobile app has always been to put as many services as possible in the palm of the traveller’s hand,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González.

“Now, with the help of SITA’s innovative technology, in addition to easily finding your way to all you need at MIA, North American passengers can now also breeze through passport control with the same customer-friendly travel app.”
Miami International Airport offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other US airport. It is America’s third-busiest airport for international passengers, with more than half of its 44.6 million passengers on international travel.
SITA offers the service as an SDK (software development kit). The SDK has been authorised by CBP for airports, airlines and other travel app providers to incorporate the entry process into their own mobile app.
Randy Pizzi, SITA President, Americas, said: “We are very pleased to be a technology partner with MIA as they become the first to incorporate the convenience of US CBP Mobile Passport Control into their airport application. Passenger satisfaction increases when technology solutions, like SITA’s, make it easy for passengers to manage their journey using just one convenient application on their own smartphone or tablet.”
SITA’s innovative design ensures the CBP requirements are met, which reduces the certification process for app developers. It enables eligible travellers to use an airport or airline’s app on their mobile device to submit their passport information and answer CBP inspection-related questions prior to CBP inspection. The convenient service does not require pre-approval and is free to use.
Today the SDK from SITA is available to any international airport in the USA or any airline flying passengers to the USA. SITA is also in discussions with other governments who are looking to digitise their landing card, customs and border clearance procedures. Providing such services via mobile devices enables direct communication with travellers which supports secure pre-clearance and helps streamline the passenger journey.

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E-paper specialist Media Carrier grows footprint across travel industry

Media Library :

With more than 600 publications from 41 countries available in its ever-growing digital media library, e-paper specialist Media Carrier is enjoying robust take-up in the travel industry for its Media Box solution, including across Lufthansa Group airlines and in more than 1,000 luxury and five-star hotels worldwide.

But providing travelers with access to the world’s top magazines and newspapers via their electronic devices isn’t just about informing and entertaining them, and driving brand loyalty. It gives airlines the option to rid themselves of the paper equivalent on board, creating savings in terms of logistics, weight and fuel consumption.

Media Carrier explains its solution thusly:

Media Box is web-based and can therefore be used with any Internet-enabled device – iPhone, iPad, Android or tablet PC and notebook. The user does not have to install an app or register personal data but simply connects the device to the local WLAN. The start page offers a link to Media Box, where the newspapers and magazines are to be found. The desired publications can then be downloaded with a mouse click.

So for example, Air Dolomiti passengers have access to Media Box via the Air Dolomiti website three days before their flight. There, they can choose their preferred titles from a range of 100 different national and international newspapers and magazines, and download them as a PDF file.

Italian leisure carriers Air Dolomiti and Neos give passengers access to a comprehensive range of e-papers. Image: Media Carrier

For airlines, the biggest attraction to Media Box “is cost savings and an increase of service for their passengers because in the print world, they usually have only newspapers or not-so-common magazines [on] offer. But with our solutions they can have all the big brands of newspapers and magazines on time, and the right amount for each and every nationality traveling with the airline,” Media Carrier managing director Philipp Jacke tells Runway Girl Network.

“So it’s a cost savings factor because airlines only have to purchase just what the customer is requesting. And the second thing is, of course, the increase in service because we can reach out to every publisher and provide every kind of publication that they have. And, additionally, an airline can provide their own publication [via] our solution as well.”

Media Carrier customizes Media Box for each client. Oman Air last year became a Media Box customer, so Media Carrier brokered agreements with publishers in Oman to cater to the airline’s needs. It is now able to offer these titles to others customers, thereby bolstering its own portfolio of titles.

Once an airline has adopted Media Box, integrating the solution into its IFE app is the natural next step. But offering the content over wireless entertainment systems on board aircraft – i.e. stored on a server and streamed to passengers’ own devices – is also an option pursued by some airlines.

“We have a few implementations in the wireless IFE for Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect,” says Jacke, referencing the high-quality digital magazines streamed to passengers’ devices. “We figured it out on Lufthansa Systems [and] did a great job there.” But due to the time-sensitive nature of newspapers, the opportunity to bring a vast amount of newspaper content on board via wireless IFE is more limited, he notes, “especially in the non-connectivity IFE” realm.

Does Media Carrier believe airlines will ultimately replace their own inflight magazines with digital solutions? Not necessarily, says Jacke, who notes that inflight magazines are seen as providing an important distraction for fearful flyers.

With that said, given that “modern gate-to-gate wireless IFE systems can provide them with digital reading material right away as well”, Media Carrier does include inflight magazines and inflight shopping magazines in its portfolio.

“Lufthansa has six different publications [of its own] that we have in our portfolio, like Lufthansa Woman’s World, and all these other publications that are not displayed on board, so [it provides] an opportunity to display their magazines as well,” says Jacke.

In the transportation industry, Media Carrier does not limit itself to the aviation sector (airlines and airport lounges). “We have a couple of train companies that we are servicing, and cruise ships as well. So these are the major areas that we are covering.”

In terms of growth, Media Carrier – which has a strong position in Europe – sees more opportunities in the Middle East. And the firm recently opened up an office in New York “so of course the North American market is also” a target, says Jacke. “So these are the major areas that we are covering and the biggest advantage of our solution is that it is bespoke for each and every customer when it comes to appearance as well as implementation as well as the portfolio.”

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Business of Loyalty: Using Big Data to Measure Sentiment Across Loyalty Programs

Until the time comes when airlines need to compete for customers again, passenger sentiment many not matter.

Loyalty programs in the airline industry have evolved dramatically over the last few years to favor high-spend customers and trim budget travelers from the ranks — after all, with the sector booming, who needs to incentivize new customers?

The course has slimmed down loyalty programs and aggravated some budget travelers, but until recently, most of the negative sentiment has been only recorded on the fringes of social media, where it’s tough to draw quantitative trends.

Now, a new study from Travel Data Daily has been able to look at aggregate data across social channels to predict how unhappy loyalty program members can be and when they’re at risk of taking business to other carriers.

The study used Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo program, which made major changes in 2015, as a case study. By analyzing the social feeds of over 13,000 elite program members, the study determined the points at which customers became unhappy with the program and the subsequent moment when they switched carriers.

“..When loyalty members who consistently talk about their home airline suddenly begin talking about another airline in a positive manner or asking questions related to another airline, our research suggests the propensity for this individual to book a flight or switch loyalty programs significantly increases,” the study concluded.

In total, the study hypothesized that about 1,200 elite members in the test group — just under 10% — likely defected from Cathay Pacific after the loyalty program changes were made.

Though the study stops at analyzing Cathay Pacific, it’s easy to see how similar movement may be afoot across legacy U.S. carriers. American Airlines, in particular, has taken a heavy dose of criticism from its customers this year thanks to not only new spend-based elite status requirements but also a lack of award space available for those that do end up earning any miles. On top of that, many regular travelers on the airline bemoan the service now delivered by the recently merged carrier, which is still bringing two service and flight teams together to the same standard.

Basic Economy, which is now in place at all three legacy carriers, has also exacerbated passenger unease and no doubt by extension, loyalty churn. As more passengers learn about lack of benefits and elite status that comes along with basic economy fares, more are losing their faith in loyalty programs.

Were Travel Data Daily to run a similar study on the American legacy carriers, it might find record levels of passenger dissatisfaction with loyalty programs. By design, spend-based loyalty programs are made to award high-spend customers and shrink the pool of participants. The question isn’t how unhappy passengers are, however, it’s whether the loyalty programs care.

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