Wearable tech

Wearables get smart

May 9, 2018

The development of smart-device wearables is set to impact on passenger wellbeing, Richard Williams discovers how

The popularity of smart wearables is on the rise. Passengers are already using smart watch functions for their boarding passes and flight info, and they have potential to aid onboard health, giving personalised travel tips and jetlag recovery schedules.

Gregory Ouillon, cto SITAONAIR, says: “It is important to distinguish between what the Internet of Things (IoT) could bring and what will be offered through passenger-owned wearables.”

For IoT, he sees new interactions with the cabin allowing passengers to control their seats, lighting and temperature from their personal devices, perhaps with pre-set preferences. Further advances may see connected technologies that sense body temperature, heart rate, sweat and alertness, and proactively propose wellbeing programmes to passengers, based on their journey and personal condition, or even anticipate health conditions and take appropriate measures.

Ouillon adds: “For passenger wearables, we need to assume passengers will own and manage their app and service ecosystem around their preferred wearables brand. The opportunity will therefore be how to present applications and content that they can download or access before they fly, for wellbeing programmes, remote health assistance, crew interaction, cabin control, IFE control, and so on.”

For crew, the potential is different again. He says: “Airlines can govern the devices and apps used to support health controls and health regulation compliance, monitor safety hazards, passenger and cabin interaction, and offer real-time information and disruption management.“

He explains that the development of these smart devices relating to health and wellbeing is just at its beginning, and those recently introduced to the market are small, light and intuitive. Most of them can be carried in small boxes and swapped from one aircraft to the other, removing the obligation to obtain an aviation authority-approved certificate to use them onboard – a perfect combination for fast adoption by airlines.

Smart devices can also support onboard telemedicine, using the IFC system to share photos and videos so remote doctors give precise treatment advice onboard.

Paul Colley, vp software development, Spafax, adds: “There has been some buzz around biometric technology for passenger health and wellbeing (hydration monitoring, etc.). Finger printing and facial recognition are increasingly being integrated into the boarding procedures too. Fitness wearable brands are likely to evolve to include more sophisticated features that relate specifically to health and wellbeing
during air travel.”