The world’s best airport is getting an augmented reality upgrade.
Passengers at Singapore’s Changi airport could soon see shorter waiting times for their flights, with the airport’s latest introduction of AR for its ground crew.
Touted as the world’s first use of AR in ramp handling, the technology comes in the form of a pair of smart glasses, which will provide instructions to staff.
For example, a ground handler loading cargo onto a plane can now “see” and scan a virtual QR code displayed on cargo or baggage containers, and through the glasses instantly view the details of its weight, loading sequence and allocated position within the aircraft.
Oh, and it’s hella futuristic.
Cameras installed in the glasses will also allow control centre staff to monitor what the handlers see in real-time.
The company deploying the set up is SATS, Changi Airport’s main ground handling firm.
It commissioned the smart glasses from hardware maker Vuzix, and the custom software was created by AR design firm, Eon Reality.
According to SATS, the new process could see loading times cut from 60 minutes to just 45 minutes — leading to shorter waiting times for passengers, and shorten transit times for airfreight shippers.
“Currently we have challenges [such as] limited real time information, we use manual loading instructions [in the form of paper reports] and are limited to walkie-talkies, [which] may be loud and hard to hear [with loud background noises],” said Kevin Chin, Vice President of Projects at SATS.
The glasses have their limitations, however.
For one, each set of glasses can last only an hour when fully charged. Handlers have to carry around an extra battery pack that can charge the AR glasses for up to five hours.
This means the glasses could at best last for six hours of a typical eight hour work shift.
It also takes a bit of getting used to, with SATS revealing that its crew members took an average of one week to get used to the glasses.
Some 600 of SATS’ staff are currently undergoing AR training, and the company hopes that the smart glasses will be fully implemented by mid 2018.