Inspire

5 Ways Technology Is Changing The Way We Travel

Tech innovations are making travel easier and more accessible every day.

Brought to you by Qantas

This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.

The way we travel has changed significantly over the past century, thanks, in no small part, to a little thing we like to call “technological advancement”. This means there’s heaps of tech innovations making our experience of jetting around the world easier and more accessible every day.

From biometric facial recognition to virtual reality, here are five ways that technology is changing the way we travel.

#1 Biometric Facial Recognition

Since September of this year, travellers arriving at Sydney and Brisbane airports on selected international flights have experienced the latest and greatest in tech. Qantas is the first non-European airline to trial biometric facial recognition technology, which validates a person’s identity through unique physical characteristics and allows passengers to make their way through the airport without travel documents. Imagine that!

Here’s how it works: Customers travelling on select Qantas flights are invited to scan their passport and have a photo of their face taken at an airport check-in kiosk. This data then becomes a virtual boarding pass that allows a customer to cruise around the airport terminal, from bag drop to security and customs, lounge entry and boarding gates – no passport required.

The best part? If you’re travelling through Brisbane from December 1, you’ll be able to manage the whole process using the brand-new Qantas Facial Recognition app.

Qantas has also trialled the technology at Los Angeles International Airport and plans to roll out biometric facial recognition across even more locations in future in the hopes that this one-step biometric boarding process will allow fliers to save valuable time at the airport and improve the overall customer experience. Amen to that.


#2 In-Ear Translation

Image: Google

For savvy travellers like us, the Google Pixel Buds are a sci-fi dream come true. Released last year, the Bluetooth-enabled headphones provide instant in-ear translation between 40 languages when paired with a smartphone.

It’s one giant leap for mankind in the removal of language barriers, building upon technology already available on the iPhone and the Google Translate app, which record speech and then translate it in a chosen language. And it sure beats frantically flipping through a phrase book.


#3 Robots

Image: LG Eletronics

If the increased use of robots at airports and hotels is anything to go by, the future is well and truly here.

In the lead up to the Winter Olympics this February, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport trialled two robot prototypes: an Airport Guide Robot to assist passengers with flight information, directions to boarding gates and weather data, and an Airport Cleaning Robot to help keep the terminal spick and span.

Amsterdam’s Schipol International Airport, on the other hand, boasts a six-foot-two robot named Spencer that escorts passengers to boarding gates, while at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, the EMIEW3 robot communicates in both Japanese and English to assist travellers.

And hotels around the world are getting in on the robot action. The Ghent Marriott Hotel is home to Mario, a robot that can communicate in 19 languages and hand out room keys. At Crowne Plaza San Jose, a robot named Dash is on hand to deliver snacks to hungry guests, while at Aloft Silicon Valley, a robot bellhop named Botlr can fulfil guest requests for towels or toothpaste. At Henn Na Hotel in Japan, guests are checked in by a robot, while in-room robots control heating and lighting and provide entertainment (they sing on request).


#4 Virtual Reality

Image: Jeshoots.com

With a basic cardboard headset, a smartphone, and a virtual reality app, users can immerse themselves in far-flung locations, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Jaunt VR’s Home Turf series, for example, allows travellers to experience adventure sports around the world through immersive, 360-degree videos. Users can strap on a virtual reality headset and kayak through Iceland’s Aldeyjarfoss waterfall or rock climb The Needles in California before actually booking a trip. Similarly, Everest VR is an interactive travel experience that allows users to hike the summit of the world’s most famous peak in adrenalin-pumping virtual reality, before braving the real thing.

And adventure travel isn’t the only experience getting the VR treatment. The VR Museum of Fine Art allows users to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures, from Monet’s Water Lilies to Michelangelo’s David, all without the crowds. That’s our kind of people-watching.


#5 Chatbots

Image: Tim Bennett

Been chatting with a chatbot recently? Us too. That’s because our favourite travel companies are increasingly turning to chatbots to improve customer experience. Powered by artificial intelligence, chatbots are able to simulate conversations with humans in real time, providing information on everything from flight prices to the best times of year to travel to a destination.

Generally speaking, the user is asked to tell the bot some basic information about their travel plans and the bot then displays the most popular hotels or activities in the chosen destination, responds to accommodation-related questions about payment, pet policies, parking and more. Welcome to the future.

(Lead image: Anete Lusina)

Find out more about Qantas Facial Recognition and download our brand new app here. If you are flying out of Brisbane International before December 1, you could be breezing through the airport using your face, leaving your travel documents in your carry-on.