In the past few months, many things across the world have changed. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the always bustling airport terminals have become eerily empty. But now some countries across Europe have begun to ease lockdown measures and border restrictions and to prepare for the return of domestic and international tourists.
While airports are gearing up to take travellers to the skies once again, there are major challenges that airlines face including social distancing, health checkups and more to prevent the travel hubs and terminals from becoming potential breeding grounds of the virus. To help combat this situation, a handful of startups in Europe and also globally have come up with some innovative technologies such as electronic bag tags, tracking of people and baggage flow, contactless biometrics, etc. to curb the spread of the virus. Consequently, we take a look at what kind of solutions these tech startups are offering to the airports of the world.
BAGTAG – Electronic bag tag solution (The Netherlands)
Founder/s: Erik Harkes
Founded year: 2014
Dutch startup BAGTAG from Almere was founded with the intention to introduce the world’s first flexible and secure ‘electronic bag tag’ solution. The company works with leading airlines including Lufthansa Group and claims to be a leader in the electronic bag tag market. With this solution, BAGTAG intends to avoid crowding and queuing at the airports.
Its Electronic Bag Tags (EBTs) have a lot of benefits that help in curbing COVID-19 spread such as reduced check-in staff, cost-saving opportunities for airlines, no need for physical touchpoints, opportunity to handle four-times more bags each hour, more space in the terminal, improved efficiency and effective social distancing.
Xovis – A passenger contagion map (Switzerland)
Founder/s: Christian Studer, David Studer, Markus Herrli
Founded year: 2009
The Swiss startup believes tracking crowd movements through a passenger contagion map, as well as identifying contagious groups at an early stage, will be two powerful tools that airports can actively use to ensure they will be compliant with post-COVID19 travel regulations, and can give returning travellers some peace of mind. The company believes that physical distancing will be a key challenge for airports to deal with once passenger numbers increase again over the coming weeks.
Christian Studer, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Xovis explains: “Using a high-precision people flow monitoring system is the most effective way for airports to ensure physical distancing regulations are met. The whitepaper builds the foundation for implementing exactly this, while protecting airport workers from unnecessary risks and maintaining passenger experience levels.”
“We’ve been helping airports for a decade to manage crowds with our 3D stereovision sensors. We’re glad that our unparallel accuracy and privacy compliant solution can now be adapted to serve new use cases that have emerged recently,” adds Florian Eggenschwiler, Xovis’ Managing Director Airports.
Xovis claims to be the world’s leading provider of people flow solutions. So far, the company has deployed over 100,000 high-accuracy 3D sensors across a wide-range of industries. Nearly 100 airports as well as retail system integrators, and numerous other industries around the globe rely on Xovis solutions.
Dassault Systèmes – 3D modeling technology (France)
Founder/s: Charles Edelstenne
Founded year: 1981
Dassault Systèmes’ is using 3D modeling technology to fight COVID-19. The startup’s virtual twin’s simulation capabilities enable airport teams to perform virtual testing to rule out situations in times of COVID-19. The company’s virtual twins can transform the way airports can prepare and recover post the pandemic and restore confidence among passengers. The company utilised its SIMULIA XFLOW simulation capabilities to stimulate virus contamination and diffusion in the hospital ventilation system and eliminate the negative impact caused by unplanned ventilation risks.
The company has extended the same to airports to create a safe environment for passengers. With its new virtual twin technology, it will help airports keep passengers safe, secure, and healthy. Airports can perform virtual testing and curb the spread among passengers.
Copenhagen Optimization – Cloud-based planning solution (Denmark)
Founder/s: Anders Dohn, Kasper Hounsgaard
Founded year: 2014
Funding: €2.2 million
Copenhagen Optimization will put its BETTER AIRPORT platform, a cloud-based planning solution targeted at airport operations to effective use post-COVID-19. They have a forecast solution to manage baggage and passenger flow in real-time operation. They have worked with Heathrow Airport for the past two months to implement physical distancing. The airport condensed operations into two terminals to comply with the new regulations.
Acorel – Passenger counting solutions (France)
Founded year: 1989
Acorel is recognised as one of the global leaders in automatic people counting solutions and people flow analysis. The company’s vision is to use passenger counting to provide a safe airport operation. It presented two technologies – LIDAR sensor and 3D stereoscopic sensors. Acorel’s solutions count people flow with high levels of accuracy and relies on detecting people’s position in real-time. This company’s solution helps provide trajectory analysis, real-time tracking, crowd density and heat mapping.
To deal with the social distancing norms due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Acorel provides turnkey Automatic Passenger Counting Solutions to help airports tackle the post-COVID-19 era challenges.
Amorph Systems – Real-time infection detection (Germany)
Founder/s: Karl-Heinz Frank, Frank Frauenhoffer
Founded year: 2013
Amorph Systems specialises in the design and development of software within the scope of resource integration, data collection, transformation, visualisation, analysis and forecasting technologies. It teamed up with VANTIQ to help airports across the world address real-time operational requirements. Its new solution is a collaborative platform for real-time infection detection and containment for airports dubbed IDCS. This tech can track each passenger individually track to suspect passenger in the airport via a CCTV system and point the security or medical staff.
Vision-Box – Seamless Flow Solutions (Portugal)
Founder/s: Bento Correia, Paulo Heleno
Founded year: 2001
Funding: €2.1 million
Vision-Box is targeted at improving the quality, efficiency, convenience, and security in travel and border control. It offers user-centric digital identity management solutions built on trusted biometric tokens. Vision-Box’s biometric offerings can minimise the risk of transmission at the airports and beyond. Its seamless flow solutions leverage facial biometrics and digital mobile ID apps that mark a new normal in the COVID-19 era as it calls out for touchless technology.
Medicus AI – Self Assessment Tool (Austria)
Founder/s: Baher Al-Hakim
Founded year: 2015
Funding: €20.9 million
Medicus AI, based out of Vienna is a healthcare company that uses Artificial Intelligence. It explains and interprets medical reports and health data and turns numbers into meaningful insights. Now, Ethiad Airways, a national airline in the UAE has partnered with Medicus AI to launch a new COVID-19 risk assessment tool, which will empower guests to make informed decisions about travelling. This tool will guide Ethiad’s guests in evaluating the chances of contracting the virus by responding to 22 questions. It will take less than five minutes to complete the test and it adheres to the guidelines suggested by WHO. Guests can access this self assessment tool on Ethiad’s website and it will soon be available on its mobile app.
Stock photo from Ranta Images/Shutterstock
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