Technical snags and inclement weather often ruin one’s flying experience but imagine a scenario where airport managers could foresee the consequences of such disruptions and plan in time before events escalate. Smartglasses, and not a crystal ball, are at your rescue. Sporting a pair of smartglasses, staring at a blank wall and using hand gestures to superimpose data on a 3-D image of an airport could help visualise a set of chain reaction likely to be triggered in an emergency. Such a graphical representation of data can help crisis handlers better manage a situation. SITA Lab, the research arm of air transport IT provider SITA, has released early results of a research carried out in Finland with HelsinkiAirport using Microsoft HoloLens, a pair of smartglasses, to analyse and manage airports in a mixed reality environment. HoloLens is a self-contained holographic computer, enabling users to engage with digital content.
It runs on Windows 10, and enables the blending of the physical and digital worlds in ways that were previously impossible. During the trial in Helsinki, the airport’s management software supplied to the HoloLens data such as passenger real-time location, aircraft position data, gate information, flight status information, security wait times and retail dwell times. This information was merged with the 3-D real-time view of the airport for monitoring the entire airport. This helps one foresee, for example, the impact a flight delay could have on all subsequent flights as well as to predict the rush of passengers. Armed with this information airport managers can decide what action needs to be taken to improve efficiency. “Mixed reality enables digital and physical data to exist together.
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,” said Jim Peters, SITA CTO and head of SITA Lab at the Air Transport IT Summit held in Brussels last month. HoloLens also opens the possibility of being able to access the airport operational control center from any location, on or offsite, allowing experts to provide input to situations remotely. “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,” said Greg Jones, MD, Worldwide Hospitality and Travel, Microsoft Corporation. SITA Lab, however, points out that it is early days to execute this technology and issues of weight, size and durability of the HoloLens will need to be addressed.