The future has regularly been imagined as a place of flying cars, hoverboards, and stylish steel furniture – but the future is arriving faster and more subtly than some would expect.
We have glasses that can record video, read news, browse the internet and check the weather without touching a thing. Systems to identify you just by staring into a camera, putting your finger on a pad, or waving your hand through a machine. The devices of the future are what we have today.
A lot of convenient smart devices have been manufactured over the years, and the wearable devices may soon rise in popularity alongside smartphones. Google Glass and the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch are among the top recognized of the wearable devices. Other similar products have been released, but they haven’t been nearly as much in the spotlight as these two.
A variety of biometric identification has also been developed over the recent years. Complex facial recognition software and systems have been developed, along with the traditionally imagined retina and fingerprint scanners of the future. These systems can be used to speed up and simplify all the processes that are part of taking a flight. Retina scanners will allow you to check in and pass security; fingerprint scanners let you check in your luggage and shop as you wait; facial recognition cameras to track your travels through the airport and make sure you arrive on time – sending messages straight to your smart devices telling you where you need to go and when.
Even more complex and unique systems are being designed to identify people – Everything from wristbands that measure a person’s unique Electro Cardiogram signature, to systems that scan the veins in a person’s palm. As these technologies advance, the public use of them may increase due to the ease of use that many of them can grant. The possibilities are nearly limitless once the technology and infrastructure are in place.
What do these technologies mean for passengers and airports?
Passengers soon won’t have to worry about many items if biometrics and smart devices are utilized properly. Boarding passes can already be held on a smartphone, and soon will be able to be put on smart watches as well. Facial recognition software could recognize people already classified as threats, or let the average traveler breeze through checkpoints. Security and ease of use would be the ultimate goals of these technologies.
Some airports have already set up Bluetooth technology to guide travelers through the airports with alerts – informing them where and when their baggage will be dropped off and how long it will take for them to get there. They can also for targeted advertising. Someone walking past a store in an airport will get an alert on sales going on inside the store, and there are even more possibilities with devices constantly being released.
This technology and similar ones could be used to guide and alert staff as well. If there’s an accident that needs tending to, the closest employee can be directed to it without disrupting the flow of work for other employees. Both passenger and staff applications for technologies that ease the flow of travel and work will be great
As devices are refined and introduced into daily life, they could be applied to many aspects of airport and aviation operations.
Worries about security and the flow of private information
There are a number of concerns that people have with this growth of biometrics – images of criminal investigation TV, spy movies and dystopian futures distorting the use of appliances like this with the fantasy of films. But there are legitimate concerns with any new method of data collection and identification.
Security is the goal of biometrics – finding a unique way for someone to identify themselves readily. But what if a way is found to fake the inputs? What if a device of yours is stolen with this unique data inside? A concrete way of defending this data from ill use is paramount to biometric identification becoming a true future.
Even when the security is top of the line, there is a worry of how this personal data will be used. Individuals will want to know who will have access to what information on them. Transparency is key to allowing this information to be used and ease the fears that people may have.
Aside from these worries, the prospects of new smart technology and biometrics are looking bright and brighter, becoming the future we’ve imagined in the past. Watches that act as phones and monitor our exercise and movement for the day, tap out messages to send away, and glasses that grant us access to the Internet. The future is truly approaching at fast speeds.