Imagine being able to see the seat you're getting on your next flight before even stepping on the plane.
During the innovation session of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Summit in Barcelona this week, the developers of the “personal flight assistant” App in the Air gave a full live demo of an augmented reality, artificial intelligence-powered, voice-search engine, designed exclusively for air travel.
It would first allow you to search for the best routes according to your price and scheduling needs, then — with the AR projection of a life-sized cabin visible on the smartphone or tablet of your choice — enter the airplane cabin to check out your seat options.
The app also lets you compare your actual luggage with an AR projection of a standard size bag that would fit the bin requirements of your airline. That way, you definitely know if your carry-on bag is the right size before you even leave the house.
Travel + Leisure spoke to Sergey Pronin, chief technology officer for App in the Air, at the conference to learn just how ready for market this product is. The good news is that it is pretty close.
Pronin said that App in the Air really wants to work with airlines directly, offering this as a booking option via the app. He said his company is able to deliver capabilities like this as soon as airlines get on board. The company has already had interest from Lufthansa Group’s low-cost airline Eurowings, and Pronin says the company is in active discussions with other airlines.
Getting the right information for the features to work on all airlines will be the next hurdle before app users can enjoy the feature. Pronin says App in the Air will introduce these features in stages, but a lot depends on getting all of the right specifications for each plane travelers want to book.
“We just collected for about the top 100 airlines the sizes of their luggage bins and their seats. We're making the feature first as a demo,” he says. “You can check actual luggage sizes in one or two months. On the seat selections, you will first see what you bought already, then we will introduce selling tickets, and display the information about the seat.”
“Cabin luggage allowance is much easier because it doesn’t change plane by plane. There's one standard for the whole airline. We’re going to introduce [the features] airline by airline, working with airlines directly. If we approach airlines directly, offering them the opportunity to sell tickets, they will share the information with us, I hope,” Pronin said.
“The main purpose was to show that we are going to add booking feature to the app. We think that we can make it a really personalized experience. We can actually predict when you will fly, and where you are going to fly, and what search results you prefer. We're going to limit search results and really tailor it for each user. This is the approach we're going to use, powered by augmented reality, to try before you buy.”