Brussels: A major revolution in the passenger experience is set to emerge over the next three years as airlines invest in the 'Internet of Things' (IoT).
According to the SITA 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey, the vast majority of airlines (86%) expect that the IoT will deliver clear benefits in the next three years and already more than one third (37%) have allocated budget to it.
The results of the survey released today, show that IoT investments will be focused in the areas of check-in, bag drop and bag collection.
The 'Internet of Things' is when physical objects are connected to the internet, which enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control.
As part of this revolution, more things in the airport are being connected up including buildings, equipment, bags, trolleys, tugs basically all the 'things' that could emit a status.
In reality, however, because today the vast majority (83%) of passengers carry smartphones, passengers and staff are connected and can be part of the IoT too.
SITA's survey carried out among the world's top 200 airlines shows that airlines are already considering the benefits of IoT and over the next three years more than half plan investments in this area. By 2018, 16% plan major programs and a further 41% plan to invest in research and development.
Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA, said, "Our whole world is becoming more and more connected and airlines recognize that investment will be needed to harness the benefits of IoT efficiently.
This year airlines are beefing up their investments in both business intelligence and data centers, which are key foundations required for the IoT.
Beacons for baggage
One of the first manifestations of the IoT in the air transport industry is the use of beacons. This will be the first area that airlines will see the benefits of sensors and the ability to match location with other information.
Today just 9% of airlines are using or trialing beacons but this is set to rise rapidly to 44% by 2018. Bag services are the steps of the journey where beacons will be most used by then 44% of airlines are planning to use them at bag drop and 43% at bag claim.
Location, location, location
Another area of progress identified in SITA's survey is how communications are set to develop rapidly from the first wave of notification services, which are now established, to the point where interactive mobile communication becomes the standard for the majority of airlines.
The focus of these new services over the next three years will be to use location-based information, in many cases from beacons, to solve baggage-related issues and help passengers board on time with notifications based on their location, even before they reach the airport.