A Glimpse Into the Future of Aviation Seen at South by Southwest

Tens of thousands of the brightest minds in tech converged in Austin for the 21st Interactive SXSW Festival. Innovators and entrepreneurs gathered to review the technology of tomorrow, today.  We took a look at the agenda to see what’s on the horizon for aviation and what it could mean for the future of flight.  Here are some of the highlights:

Coming soon to Gogo: In-air texting on your smartphone

Gogo has become an in-house name for frequent travelers, who rely on Gogo’s service for in-flight WiFi and television programs.  Gogo has transformed the in-flight flying experience for passengers looking to stay connected at 30,000 feet in the air.  At SXSW Gogo tested their Gogo Text & Talk service, which will allow passengers to take advantage of text and talk services in-flight. 

Early reviews were positive with one reviewer sharing, “The quality of the connection is surprisingly decent... A friend I talked to said it sounded like I was in a car, not an airplane moving at 500 miles-per-hour. And any trouble I had hearing was because the plane was noisy and my ears got clogged.”

American Airlines Hackathon

American Airlines hosted a hackathon at this year’s SXSW, inviting outside developers to code to its API for the first time, in a competition to create the best travel app.  The winning app, AirPing provides travelers live updates on flight schedules and delays while also providing airlines with real-time information about its passengers. 

The Future of Biometrics

Biometrics, refers to the identification of humans by their characteristics or traits, and has been gaining a lot of attention for what it can do as a form of identification and access control.  One session at SXSW, led by Skooks Pong, VP of Technology, for Synapse Product Development explored the role biometrics can play in providing vital insights. He gave an example of how biometrics could be used in flight: “Imagine sitting on a plane when your smartwatch, using biosensors, registers a decrease of glucose, signaling a drop in your blood sugar. The flight attendant is alerted and you are given water and a snack.” 

These are just a few aviation highlights from this year’s SXSW conference. If one theme emerged it was the convergence of using real-time data and analytics in conjunction with mobile devices to improve the travel experience for passengers. And while the parallels of what these innovations mean to your flight training program may not be immediate they are important to consider. 

There is a role for mobile and real-time analytics in aviation and it’s not just for passengers. 

Think about the applications real-time analytics could have for fleet operators; real time cost analysis on aircraft, dynamic pricing based on weather conditions and aircraft utilization, insights into fleet performance focused on maximizing revenue.  Furthermore, today’s aviation students will be a part of the always-on generation, consistently connected to their mobile devices looking for new ways to interact and learn.