As part of a three-day Airport IT conference in Munich, Amadeus head of airport IT product management Holger Mattig outlined the future of airport management and said that aviation hubs will witness more use of wearables, internet of things (IoT) applications and predictive analysis in the future.

Talking about how the IoT has impacted the aviation industry, Mattig said that computing devices are already exchanging data between each other. “If you look at the apron, all of the devices that go on there – the push back tractors, the de-icing elements, all of these are actually able to talk to each other and give data about every stage of activity,” he said.

“In terms of flight handling, we now have technologies from companies like Assaia who can make prediction through videos generated by machine learning, and technologies like geofencing, where you can manage drones and improve safety.

“We have the same for indoor where there are a lot of initiatives that are used to engage with the mobile phones of passengers in events of potential disruptions.”

While aviation companies are increasingly using technologies such as IoT and machine learning, Mattig said that going forward, airport and airline companies will start using wearable technology to improve efficiency.

He added that employees could start wearing devices such as “smart sunglasses” and “smart bracelets” to track passenger activity, and that monitoring how passengers prefer to shop, eat and spend their time in an airport could help authorities to understand consumer behaviour.  

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“Airports must start to build what I would call airport-centric visible analytics by implementing CRM solutions with the aim to look at the profile of passengers. You can use them to measure airport performance and understand the market,” he said.

This information can then be analysed and help airport companies to invest in infrastructure which will increase passenger footfall. “There is already a long list of start-ups and companies that work around those verticals,” Mattig added. 

Apart from knowing customer preferences, Mattig said these technologies and devices can be used to “alert passengers in an event of cancellations, delays or if there is a long queue for check-in.

“As a passenger, I would like to know if there’s a problem in my journey, so I can alter and change my decisions. Maybe I don’t even need to go to the airport,” Mattig added. 

Highlighting other advantages of wearable technology, Mattig added that it can also be used to “guide passengers through the airport and even alert them if there are any discounts or deals in retail shops [in airports].”

Building on how technology is becoming more embedded in the industry, Mattig said: “I even heard about a Swedish CEO who has asked everyone in his company to input a chip [in their bodies] for better management. 

“I’m not recommending this, but this is where this the technology revolution is going and this is the way to go because somewhere you need all this data for better passenger processing.”

Mattig added that the data collected via these devices can be used to optimise operations and then make predictions. He said airport and airline companies will also start using cognitive computing. “This will allow the machine to look at all this data that is collected and try to find patterns, it will structure that data and give you advice that will lead you to decision support. 

“We clearly can see this as a source of investment decision on issues such as ‘where do I place an aircraft, which aircraft comes arrives when it comes around’.”