Tech may have you book next trip through refrigerator
By Marli Horwitz, MS&T Editor
Tech giants have promised the everyday traveler an automated future for years; many expected concepts such as the driverless car, household robot, and other automated services to be on the consumer market today. These varied forms of instant gratification once thought to be impossible may be tangible developments within the next five years.
At CES 2016, a technology trade show held recently in Las Vegas, numerous travel innovation products were revealed that could forever change the way we get from point A to B.
A hot topic at CES was virtual reality and eye-tracking technology, recently on the rise in more than travel developments. Though, in the realm of airline technology, “one thing we’ve seen in constant development is how the travel providers plan to use (this technology) to manage passengers and property,” according to Skyscanner developer advocate David Low.
Through the use of Google Glass, for example, Low says a flight attendant will be able to verify and then attend to a passenger’s request simply by looking at the cabin. This eye-tracking technology could also identify when a given passenger is in the wrong seat or where there lies opportunity for uncomfortable passengers to swap seating.
The days of being surprised by the look of your hotel room or your getaway destination may be pushed into the past. Virtual reality is taking off this year, specifically with the focus on previous developments such as Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, the latter of which Facebook bought in 2014. Today, it is not difficult to take a sneak peak at your travel destination using such advancements as Google Cardboard and the advanced Streetview apps.
However, this year hotels around the world may pick up on this technology. With the ability to look inside, consumers will have the ability to customize the look of their room so that upon arrival it is set up exactly as anticipated and designed.
Travel technology will enter the scene far before the individual picks a hotel, however. Low also notes that with the improvements in search engine intelligence, finding a flight may be as easy as conversing with a Siri-like personal assistant.
For instance, Skyscanner is currently working on their conversational search technology, wherein one will have to say no more than “find me a flight to London” and with the use of personalized info, a refined list will appear at the customer’s fingertips.
The laptop or tablet will not be the only thing to know one’s travel preferences; Samsung has released quite a new smart appliance, the Family Hub refrigerator. Besides the fact that it can communicate with other appliances, the refrigerator also is a equipped with an HD touchscreen that can tell hungry consumers what is inside the fridge. Perhaps we will soon be making travel plans from our refrigerator.
Driverless cars have been in test mode for some time now, but for those getting tired of the wait fear not, a concept even cooler is on the horizon- the pilot-less helicopter. Chinese company Ehang revealed the latest design where the consumers simply type in their destination and are taken by the drone-like machine. 2016 may be the year we start asking our refrigerators to book us our next vacation.