Benefits of Augmented Reality in Airports

The potential of the Augmented Reality

Technological improvements are moving fast and the results reached until now are surprising. The concept of Augmented Reality is entering our daily language more and more. Many companies operating in different sectors have already decided to invest in Augmented Reality solutions to make their operations more agile and efficient. While, on the one hand, it is important to consider that the use of these new technologies is vital to reach high quality levels in the management of operations, it is equally crucial, on the other hand, to underline their role in the customers’ experience improvement.

Augmented Reality consists on the generation of 3D images that are set in real environments through the use of digital information coming from different business intelligence systems.There are many contexts in which this kind of technology could be a valid support to improve performances and outcomes. Using Smart Glasses (in whicha camera, motion and location sensors are integrated), it is possible to live a 360-degree experience that will project the user into a new reality with which he will also be able to interact.

How will Augmented Reality affect airports’ environment?

Airports are pushed by the emerging technologies to do better and better. For this reason, they need to keep up with the times and show their modernity. Some attempts have already been done in order to understand how augmented reality can make the difference. The first airport to introduce Augmented Reality to improve its operations has been the Singapore Airport in 2017. After all, what else could we expect from the best airport in the world? It developed an Augmented Reality system to improve the management of the cargo operations. The employees, thanks to the use of Smart Glasses, were enabled to retrieve information through the scan of QR codes.

The information collected were, for example, the weight, the unit number and the content of the shipment. Moreover, the employees could keep in touch remotely with theirsupervisors to make the logistics operations much leaner. Also in Europe, the Augmented Reality began to be introduced last year. The first attempt to integrate Augmented Reality with an improved experience inside the airport was developed in London, by Gatwick airport. The Gatwick Airport Mobile app included an indoor navigation feature that allowed the passengers to view their route to reach, for example, their gate or a specific terminal.

The introduction of wayfinding functions has to be considered crucial when it comes to improving the experience of the traveler. In fact, navigation within large and dispersed spaces such as airports can become challenging, especiallyfor those who are not frequent flyers.The directions towards which the Augmented Reality can go are many and certainly they will not be limited to the wayfinding functions or the cargo management.Surely, Augmented Reality could be a significant investment for airports that will be able to offer better services. For example, it could improve the management of the travelers’ flow by directing them smartly to the different areas of the airport and providing real-time information on flights and waiting times on boarding gates. Or it could be useful to make security checks faster and more precise. Or even to reduce waiting times, thanks to the optimization of baggage reclaim operations. The scenarios are innumerable and surely the use of Augmented Reality will lead us to experience airports in a different, smarter and easier way.

Which benefits will it bring?

The benefits that come from augmented reality are many, including:

  • Stronger and more careful supervision;
  • Real-time information for both passengers and employees;
  • More engaging travel experience;
  • Save money, since some operations would be simplified and would require less people and means;
  • Better ground operations’ management;
  • More sophisticated communication systems;
  • Make the airports less chaotic thanks to the organization of passengers’ flows;
  • Accuracy, thanks to the beacon systems implemented in the different areas of the airport.

Despite Augmented Reality would bring huge changes within airports, we do not expect these new features to be introduced in the short term as the costs of implementation are very high. The expenses for this kind of investment are huge and require time to obtain a real and concrete ROI.

For this reason, costs constitute a great limit to the spread of Augmented Reality in airports.

The world of technology can be very fascinating and bring great innovations to improve everyday life. Looking forward to seeing what will happen in the years to come!