Plane-sailing through airports with new app

Plane-sailing through airports with new app

A new app hopes to combat the confusion with handy alerts to point air travellers in the right direction

Hong Kong International Airport is set to introduce new technology that allows facilities, stores and restaurants to "communicate" with passengers.

The new system, which has already been tested at the airport, passes information to passengers' smartphones.

Kevin O'Sullivan, lead engineer at Sita Lab which is working on the technology, said: "Imagine that you get to the airport with the airport's app on your smartphone. The app knows that you've checked in, so it directs you to the security checkpoint with the shortest line.

"Once you're through, the app will tell you which restaurants are close by and which ones are offering discounts. Once the airline knows what gate you'll be leaving from, you'll get a notification on your phone and directions for the quickest way to that gate."

The system relies on small transmitters, called beacons, placed throughout the airport.

O'Sullivan said beacon technology was better than putting a giant arrow or sign on the ground, because a traveller who may not understand English, or whatever language the airport signs use, could simply make use of the app's different languages.

However, he said that it was surprisingly hard to get flight information, such as which gate a flight is departing from, because airports and airlines often have conflicting information.

Jenkins is optimistic about what beacons can do for airports, airlines and businesses. "You're limited based upon how far you want to gaze into the future."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
It's plane-sailing through HK airport

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