Flight Number: IoT—Destination: Happiness

By Enrique Pavlioglou

Lately, we have been hearing a great many things about how the Internet of Things will revolutionize the way we do business, but what about something that will help me in my quotidian life. I personally have a great distaste for flying, not just the ups and downs—don’t even get me started on turbulence—but also the hassle of traveling, delays, wait times and long lines that are associated with flying.

How can the IoT help?

We don’t want to hear about theories and examples on how the IoT could help; instead, we want cold hard facts and plans of action of how the IoT is being implemented. One of the best solutions that I have recently become aware of is the installation of beacons throughout airports. This allows smartphones to create a map of an airport and tell travelers exactly where they need to go. This can be especially helpful when arriving at airports like JFK or DFW where finding your gate can sometimes be as hard as finding a needle in a haystack.

Another great solution that the IoT can provide is up-to-date baggage information. In my personal experience, I’ve only lost a bag once, but I had already made it home and it was retrieved in a matter of days. However, passengers have often been left with no clothes for their trip and, worst of all, the bags seem to fall of the face of the earth. Luggage tracking solutions can enable airlines to track in real time where passengers’ bags are. It can also allow airlines to detect if there has been a misplaced bag more easily, so it can be rerouted to its proper destination.

While I’d rather interact with a live person when checking in my bags for a greater sense of security, the advances in IoT for airports and travelers has created a more efficient and secure way to process and check bags, check in passengers and can redirect them to their correct destination. By implementing these machine interfaces and IoT applications, airlines can reduce the total cost of flying by limiting loss associated with last minute ticket purchases due to missed flights and missing luggage; which will hopefully result in less expensive tickets for all.

These measures only begin to scratch the surface of what the IoT can do within the transport industry. Maintenance can be scheduled automatically to prevent accidents, waste from planes can be reduced, food services can become more efficient and even environmental compliance standards can be better met. Jim Peters, CTO for SITA, told eWEEK that the "IoT is a technology that cuts across many areas of an airline's operations and processes, including maintenance, catering, and so on,”

By 2018, 32 of the 200 major airline companies expressed the intention of a major implementation of IoT. And more than one third of them have already allocated money into the creation and research of IoT technology. Since 83 percent of passengers carry a smart phone, they will be able to connect to the IoT revolution seamlessly. This only leads me to believe that the IoT is no longer just on the horizon, but is off to a bright start.