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Airport of the Future: What if virtual reality were used to check passenger flow?

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Mixed reality technology could one day make it possible to interact with an airport’s operational data, including aircraft and passenger movement.
SITA, the air transport communications and information technology specialist, has glimpsed into the future to see what tomorrow’s airport control center could look like.
Unveiled at this year’s Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, the project uses Microsoft’s HoloLens technology to imagine the airport operational control center in a mixed reality environment. HoloLens is a holographic computer that enables users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms.
Airports could use this new technology, for instance, to anticipate passenger flows. In the years to come, smart glasses may make it possible to simultaneously monitor data displays and see a live hologram airport model.
SITA Lab’s video of the pilot has since generated considerable interest on social media. If you’re a keen observer, you may have noticed that Helsinki Airport figures in the simulation.
That’s because the demo used a feed from SITA’s Day of Operations technology provided by Amorph Systems, which in turn is utilized by Helsinki Airport for day-by-day proactive management of passenger flow.
While the solution’s usefulness remains theoretical, Finavia was happy to contribute by giving SITA access to passenger flow simulation data and Helsinki Airport’s terminal base map, among others.
“In many fields, mixed reality has proved to be a useful tool for data visualization and processing. We are really enthusiastic about being involved in investigating opportunities to use the new technology,” says Eero Knuutila, Head of Service Development at Finavia.
Cutting edge digital trends have the potential to transform airport operations and passenger experience. Knuutila says that Finavia wants to be actively involved in exploring the opportunities offered by these exciting innovations.
Should this new way to visualize and interact with an airport’s operational data – including aircraft movement, passenger movement and retail analytics – become reality one day, it would not only make an airport control center more immersive. Mixed reality would make working there even cooler, don’t you think?

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