As airport control centers bring new capabilities to airports across the world, the SITA Lab sheds light on the potential of managing operations in a mixed reality environment.
Seeing is believing. The ability to visualize and interact with an environment as though it were real is beginning to open up all kinds of opportunities for all types of industries.
For the world of airports, one of the best examples to date is the innovative work of SITA Lab in enabling airport operators to use Microsoft HoloLens to analyze and manage airport operations, by placing an Airport Operational Control Center (AOCC) in a mixed reality environment.
SITA won the inaugural ‘Best Supplier Innovation’ award for its use of Microsoft HoloLens created with Helsinki Airport. It provides a new way to visualize and interact with an airport’s operational data using the mixed reality headset. From a total of 22 entries, SITA was selected as the winner by audience vote at FTE Global 2017.
SITA CTO and Head of SITA Lab, Jim Peters, cites the fact that “the SITA Lab’s early research shows strong potential use cases for airlines and airports – for operations, maintenance and training, at least.
“Our work showcases the potential of mixed reality – where digital and physical data co-exist – to create new ways of working for airports and airlines.
“With our initial research we’ve been able to demonstrate how airports can visualize and interact with an airport’s operational data using the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset.”
The project used a feed from SITA’s Day of Operations technology, in use by Helsinki Airport, and included data such as aircraft movement, passenger movement and retail analytics.
Wearing the HoloLens, operators can see a set of screens meshed into a 3D view of the airport allowing them to correlate events from the data dashboards with an immersive real-time model of the airport
“We now need to learn how to interact in this new environment,” adds Peters.
There’s no better example of collaborative innovation in air travel than SITA’s use of Microsoft’s HoloLens in the environment of an Airport Operational Control Center.
Microsoft’s Shane O’Flaherty, National Director, Hospitality & Transportation, believes: “There’s no better example of collaborative innovation in air travel than SITA’s use of Microsoft’s HoloLens in the environment of an Airport Operational Control Center.
“We see ‘mixed as the new reality’. HoloLens delivers mixed media to take people from being merely in the virtual world, to be immersed in a virtual world that seemingly introduces a physical environment.
“Its applications in industry – including air travel – are many. It will enable radically different collaborative design; it will deliver immersive and cost effective training for engineers – such as those working on aircraft, and more,” O’Flaherty says.
He recounts other different HoloLens business experiences, including assembly and manufacturing within aviation. An example is Japan Airlines’ use of HoloLens for engine maintenance and crew training in the flight deck.
Being able to visualize data and insight overlaid with the airport in a mixed environment is extremely powerful.
O’Flaherty is optimistic about mixed reality in air travel, citing the SITA / Helsinki Airport example as being one of the best business use cases he’s ever seen.
“Being able to visualize data and insight overlaid with the airport, to look at operations within the airport, to look at turnaround times, to see retail data, to understand why there might be lags in particular areas – these are vital indicators, and to have that information in a mixed environment is extremely powerful.”
“But importantly,” he adds, “seeing HoloLens used for an AOCC clearly shows it's a commercial device, very much able to provide a richer and more effective business experience. And it's all about leveraging data and the cloud.”
“Not only that, for business users it’s a phenomenal immersive experience and an insight into potential future ways of running certain air transport operations.”