Airports do not have a reputation as an enjoyable and entertaining space. Travelers must spend hours lounging by gates in order to get to their destination and ways of passing the time can be limited. Recently though, airports are partnering with technology companies to create products that foster a peaceful and, sometimes joyous, atmosphere for travelers.
John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City in June partnered with PeriscapeVR to bring travelers a new form of entertainment in its international terminals. The virtual reality technology provider installed 12 stations throughout the airport to create a unique Experience Center around virtual reality. Users can escape the airport hustle by catching a mesmerizing deep-sea experience surrounded by whales and sea anemones in one offering, for example.
With tens of millions of passengers passing through the terminals annually, PeriscapeVR has realized that airports provide the perfect entertainment location: a captive audience surrounded by a dearth of options.
It is not all about entertainment though. Technology is making airports more efficient as well.
At Boston’s Logan International Airport, JetBlue allows travelers to have their photo taken at the gate instead of showing their boarding materials. A camera connects the image with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to verify the flight information. If the data matches the person’s image, he or she will be free to board without having to show the gate agent a single piece of paper.
London’s Heathrow Airport recently installed 26 biometric-enabled self-service boarding gates for a smoother boarding process as well.
Robots are becoming commonplace in airports as they can fulfill a variety of duties both behind-the-scenes and directly with customers. Robots at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport handle bags, while robots at Germany’s Düsseldorf Airport are parking cars. Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is testing 17 robots to perform several cleaning, transportation and information tasks ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Overall, airlines and airports aim to streamline the transportation process through innovative technology. Whether it is entertainment through VR or biometric-enable technology, these new tools hope to create a better traveling environment.