The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

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January 31, 2018

Emerging Tech in Airports

Emerging Tech in Airports

Air travel has become the most favored and convenient mode of long distance travel with the 20 busiest airports in the world moving more than 700 million travelers last year.

Meanwhile airports are becoming more than a gateway for people to travel through on their way to their destinations. Today, airports offer hospitality services, duty free shopping and dining experiences to billions of travelers who walk through their doors. Airports are leveraging technology to engage with travelers passing through their facilities to provide customized and seamless services.


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Chatbot

AI based chatbots enable airports to engage autonomously with travelers. Chatbots provide travelers with flight information and directions to and within the airport. Travelers can also receive suggestions regarding in-airport services such as restaurants, shopping and other facilities, etc.

Chatbots interact with customers in a human like manner providing a seamless experience. The chatbot learns customer preferences and provides customized services and suggestions.

Frankfurt Airport uses a Facebook chatbot to provide customers with flight updates and information on in-airport restaurants, shops and other facilities. British Airways has also launched a Facebook chatbot enabling users to find exclusive deals and personalized recommendations in London.

Robotics

Robotics has emerged has a customer facing technology providing assistance to travelers in every aspect of their journey.

Airports use autonomous robots to provide travelers with a seamless experience by providing baggage check-in services and guiding travelers to their boarding gates. Robots also help with the maintenance of the airport by cleaning the airport regularly as well as on demand.

Seoul's Incheon Airport has deployed LG's airport guide robot to guide travelers to their boarding gates and an airport cleaning robot to clean the airport. Similarly, KLM is using a socially aware robot called Spencer to scan traveler's boarding passes and guide them to their departure gates by travelling with them at their pace.

Biometrics

Biometric authentication is being used in various airports to verify the identity of travelers and automate processes based on traveler biometrics. Some applications of biometrics in airports include online check-ins, baggage drops and validation of boarding passes.

Dubai International Airport is set to integrate a virtual tunnel with facial recognition technology to speed up security checks while Auckland Airport is using biometrics to automate baggage drops.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality enables airports to engage with travelers by providing information regarding the facilities available while learning customer preferences to provide a personalized experience.

Airports can provide flight information through signposts and billboards, directions to facilities and gates and information regarding in house facilities to travelers through augmented reality. It is also being used by airports ground staff to view baggage details of handled bags.

Indoor Positioning System

Beacons enables airports to monitor the movement of travelers within the airport premises and provide information regarding flight updates, baggage status and directions within the airport. The airport can also provide customized offers for travelers in the vicinity of service provider within the airport. Beacons also help airports to track staff on the premises and manage their deployment.

Miami International Airport is improving traveler experiences by providing personalized updates, directions and suggestions based on their location through a contextually aware app while Nice Côte d'Azur Airport is using a beacon-enabled app to send contextual retail information and promotional offers to travelers based on their location in the terminal.

Conclusion

Airports are set for a major overhaul to engage with the large number of travelers passing through their gates. Many airports are already experimenting with new technologies to provide a seamless and personalized travel experience to travelers.

References:

1.       https://diytravelhq.com/why-airport-hotels-important/

2.       https://www.virgin.com/travel/are-airports-most-important-hubs-world

3.       http://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2017/01/7-technologies-that-airlines-and-airports-should-be-focusing-on-in-2017/

4.       https://w3.accelya.com/blog/5-airline-technology-trends-that-will-fly-higher-in-2017

5.       http://www.digitalistmag.com/customer-experience/2017/08/14/emerging-technology-in-airline-industry-05226935

6.       http://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2016/01/5-technology-trends-that-airlines-and-airports-should-be-prepared-for-in-2016/

7.       https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/26374/technology-revolutionise-aviation-2017/

8.       http://www.otrams.com/blog/trends/airline-technology-trends-2017

9.       https://www.netscribes.com/technology-trends-airline-industry/

10.   http://www.futuretravelexperience.com/2016/11/british-airways-launches-facebook-chatbot-with-personalised-offers/

11.   https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/21/16007680/lg-airport-robot-cleaning-guide-south-korea-incheon

January 30, 2018

Computer Vision enabling a Retail Utopia

Computer vision (CV) is the technology that enables a machine to 'see' and 'understand' its surroundings, just like or even better than humans. As per the British Machine Vision Association, "computer vision is concerned with the automatic extraction, analysis and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images (video). It involves the development of a theoretical and algorithmic basis to achieve automatic visual understanding." It plays a vital role in providing innovative, immersive, futuristic solutions and applications across industries, including traffic management, surveillance, medical image analysis, payments, autonomous vehicles, quality control and many more.

We believe that the retail industry will embrace this technology rapidly with many use cases that will benefit from it across the retail value chain. 

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The retail value chain (Figure 1) is essentially a series of actions and processes that adds value to the retailer's products, and enables them to be sold to customers. It includes product design, inventory management, store management, sales & marketing, delivery and support services (Reference: DUPress). CV can improve processes in each of these nodes to effectively enhance the overall value chain.

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Figure 1: Computer vision applications in the retail value chain


We'll take a closer look at the major areas in the retail value chain, viz. store management and marketing & sales, where CV can play a prominent role.

Intelligent store management: The different ways through which CV can help improve various store operations include:

  • Shelf auditing - Cameras and vision processing can help to analyze gaps in the shelves, identify misplaced products or those that are facing the wrong direction.
  • Customer tracking - CV cameras with motion detection capabilities can track customers, their emotions and behavior in the store, to understand and efficiently address customer concerns.
  • Security - CV enhances security & surveillance in stores, to avoid possible theft and pilferage by alerting store managers and blacklist the individuals in real-time.
  • Crowd management - CV can be used to generate a heat map based on the movement pattern of customers inside a retail shop to efficiently analyze and manage the crowd, and tweak sales strategies in real time.
  • Product management - Store managers can search for sales data, revenue, profit, inventory level etc. of each unique product in real time using CV, machine learning and analytics.

Personalized marketing and sales: Computer vision helps improve various marketing and sales activities in the store such as:

  • Custom ads - Cameras and screens at strategic location in the store can offer personalized advertisements, triggering a purchasing intend in customers.
  • Product discovery - Customers can take a photo of an object using the retail store's app in their smart phone, and get details such as price, availability, offers, complementary products etc. of the product or similar products with the retailer.
  • Personal assistants - Robotic assistants in a store can identify customers, greet them, provide recommendations, understand reactions, and answer customer queries using natural language processing, CV and machine learning.
  • Trusted payment and checkout - CV can enable multi-factor authentication including face recognition & emotion detection, which increases security and trust by ensuring that only the authorized person is making the payments. Virtual carts and e-wallets enable a seamless checkout experience for the customers, while emotion analysis further enables the retailer to gauge the customer satisfaction levels.

The main drivers and challenges in investment and adoption of CV in the retail scenario are:

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We have come a long way from the first CV experiments of extracting 3D structures from images in the 1970's to the current day applications of recognizing emotions, identifying multiple objects and assisting self-driving cars. Developments in CV over the years would ensure advanced applications, solutions and reduction in costs, leading to wide spread adoption and improvements in efficiency and productivity of processes across industries.

Many retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, are already investing in CV and associated technologies. It is an area that deserves recognition by all enterprises and service providers across industries, and is sure to be a game changer in the near future. CV applications will eventually evolve to a stage where we would trust and use it more than our own eyes, in hospitals, cars, homes, retail stores, banks, warehouses, farms etc., and it's at this stage, that we'd have truly empowered machines to 'see'.
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