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Internet of Wearable Things?

Published on  17 June by Jim Peters , Chief Technology Officer, SITA
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The term "Internet of Things" or the "Internet of Everything" as CISCO calls it, continues to evolve with new technologies such as Google Glass and iBeacons. With Glass, users can access information while keeping their hands free, which would be nice for some staff working in our industry, as they deal with customers, baggage, planes, etc. We recently completed a trial with Virgin using Glass to greet VIP's, and we continue to see a swelling interest in the possibilities for staff to use the technology at airports and airlines.

Besides Glass, the world waits to see if Apple will release a smart watch of some kind in the near future, giving us another form factor to look at appropriate use cases.  I am hoping, with the development of bendable displays, wrap-around "mini-tablets" that actually fit right on the sleeve of an agent or cabin staff could be developed.

The Bluetooth-based beacon technology is a low-cost way to put physical markers out in the real word to bridge on into the digital world.  Smartphone applications can listen for a beacon's signal and then call into the cloud to get information about where they are and what is around them based on the beacon's identifier. It works with both Android and iPhone (Apple calls its iOS implementation "iBeacons"). This will come in handy for indoor areas like airports where the phone's GPS won't work, but also allow different use cases based on how the beacons are configured, as they can be set to broadcast a signal from a few inches to 100+ feet. So agents could have your information pop up automatically as you approach a counter or you could use it to do turn-by-turn navigation to get where you need to go (my favorite on landing in a new destination: "Where is the nearest ATM?").

SITA has launched a "Beacon Registry" for airports, to allow multiple applications to use shareable beacons (Common Use Beacons or CUBES we would call them). You can get more information here.

Will your jacket have an "iPad in the sleeve" in the future? Will the beacon at the coffee shop you walk by remind you to get another caffeine dose? Could be. It may all be part of the "Internet of Wearable Things," coming to an airport near you in the near future!

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