Airports of the Future
We certainly live in a fascinating time where technology is traveling at warp speed. For example, did you know that a spray-on product has been developed that will allow almost any object to become virtually indestructible? It involves a specialized polyurethane formula that provides an ultra-strong covering. Case in point: this covering, when applied over the shell of an uncooked egg will cause the egg to bounce, instead of break, when tossed off a 10-foot ladder. That same covering, when applied to the surface area of a disposable, plastic Solo cup, will allow a human to stand on the cup without the slightest crushing, cracking or breakage.
The progression of technology has entered every arena of our lives –from building materials, to smart-phones to aviation. And speaking of aviation, have you ever wondered how advanced technology might impact airports of the future? Let’s find out!
Welcome to the Future!
Airports around the world are already incorporating a number of dramatic changes in logistics, amenities and building construction, thanks to technology. Automated check-ins, navigational apps, and laser-powered security scanners are already in use; but get this: holographic helpers (yes, holographic) are up-and-coming in the near future to ensure that passage within an airport goes as seamlessly and as efficiently, as possible.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is ahead of its time by incorporating a virtual oasis, in its own right. By 2018, an already-underway project is scheduled for completion; and it will include ten stories of steel and glass – five stories above the ground and five, below. Within this futuristic setting, one will be able to immerse oneself in walking trails with native flora and enjoy a 40-meter waterfall called the “Rain Vortex” which will not only boast of becoming the largest indoor waterfall, anywhere, but will offer stunning sound and light displays at night.
Los Angeles’ Tom Bradley International Terminal has been renovated; and it offers passengers and visitors the largest multimedia system in the Americas. Seven titanic-sized screens depict Southern California outdoor scenes as well as entertaining video clips; and the ‘center piece’ for all this is a 22.5-meter “time tower”. The time tower includes visual images that continually change to keep travelers amused to the point where a lay-over of 2 hours may seem more like 20 minutes.
London’s Heathrow Airport is putting the final touches on the usage of biometric passport gates. Here, facial-recognition devices will determine if the person carrying a passport is, indeed, the authorized one to board a respective plane. Biometrics will, also, speed up passport security validations.
This same facial recognition technology, called laser molecular scanners, will have the ability to depict certain facial expressions or body language that would suggest a person might be hiding contraband such as drugs, explosives or weapons. This astounding technology is being designed to scan multiple people simultaneously at a distance of more than 160 feet!
Some Other Tech Goodies
It is quite astounding how many tech innovations are pending that most of us are not, yet, aware of. Here are only a few:
1: Shopping walls: Walls in airports that are embedded with images of retail items such as clothing, jewelry, books etc. will be strategically located: and beside each item will be the scan code. With the use of one’s smart-phone, one will have the ability to scan any item and have those items sent to any address around the world!
2: Air Traffic Management: With the friendly skies becoming more congested, it can be a concern since air-traffic is expected to double in the next 20 years. But there is no need to worry! A traffic management system has been developed that will be able to predict where an airplane will be at any time during its flight by utilizing specialized software. Because of this, air traffic controllers can generate “conflict free” flight plans for each aircraft! This would translate into avoided delays caused by airplanes waiting for an open runway. Also, airplanes would be able to fly closer together as well as utilize more-direct routes. Many billions of dollars would be saved each year on fuel consumption, maintenance expenses and other exhorbitant costs.
3: On-site Energy Plants: Yes, on-site energy plants located in airports will collect, treat and recycle rainwater! And speaking of going ‘green’, London’s Terminal 2 airport, awarded for its sustainable operations, is projected to recycle or compost 70% of all its waste by 2020.
4: Magnetic Levitation: In Shanghai you will find a technological wonder – a train that utilizes magnetic levitation which enables passengers from outside the city to get to the airport at a speed of 250 miles per hour. In Beijing, those who need to connect terminals at the airport can do so in only 2 minutes, thanks to the airport’s train that reaches a speed of 80 miles per hour.
After it’s all said and done, it is quite ironic that one method used to benefit one airport, in particular, is about as low-tech as one can get. The Chicago Department of Aviation has, and IS, utilizing the grazing talents of multitudes of sheep, llamas and burros on almost 8,000 acres belonging to O’Hare International. These pampered ‘pets’ will never grow hungry since their ‘airport assignment’ is to curb the growth of vegetation. This sustainable method is seen as far more eco-friendly than using toxic herbicides. Grazing herbivores working in-sync with stunning technology – who would have thought?!