It’s hard to believe how much has changed since the Wright brothers’ first powered flight just 113 years ago. Today, the rapid development of new technology continues to make travel easier, faster and more convenient than ever. What will a hotel stay look like five years from now? Or a transatlantic flight in 2030? Read up on the changes that are in store for your future travels. Some are happening now. Others are just a few years away. All of them are exciting.
Within the next ten years, airlines may begin experimenting with cabins divided into different “zones” that cater to passengers’ preferences for passing time during a flight. If you prefer to sleep, you may be grouped with others who feel the same. Passengers more interested in watching movies or mingling with other flyers would be grouped elsewhere in the cabin. This ensures that everyone gets what they’re looking for out of their flight (whether peace and quiet or activity and conversation) arriving at their destination energized and refreshed.
Already being added to Aloft hotels around the U.S., these small embedded RFID sensors (RFID stands for wireless radio frequency identification) have been placed beneath hotel room carpets. Should you wake up in the middle of the night, your weight and movement trigger the sensors, which then relay a message to switch on night lights. No more stumbling into the bathroom!
Have you always been longing for your own hotel version of the robot maid from “The Jetsons”? You may get one sooner than you think. The innovative minds behind Aloft hotels have also been testing a housekeeping robot. Request towels or shampoo from the front desk, and the housekeeping staff will place the items in a compartment in the robot—which then wheels its way to your room thanks to WiFi-equipped elevators.
New aircraft designs like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have experimented with anti-jet lag technology designed to reduce discomfort on long flights across the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than squinting into the harsh glare of fluorescent lights after an uncomfortable night’s sleep, these 787s gently ease passengers into the new time zone with LED lights. Better air filtration and lower cabin air pressure also reduce jet lag.
If the only thing missing from your morning makeup routine has been the ability to browse news headlines while applying eyeliner, then you’re in luck: Model hotel rooms are beginning to feature “smart mirrors” customized to show digital content on a touchscreen display. Using your phone to check your email, sports scores, tweets and the day’s headlines is old hat. Today you read the paper. Tomorrow, you can browse the mirror.
Soon, paging through an English-to-Spanish dictionary or using an app to learn to pronounce “bathroom” in Cantonese may be a thing of the past. A number of companies, from Google to Samsung, are working on wearable translators that can remove the language barrier in real-time—including this SpeechTrans smartwatch. As it gets perfected, this wearable technology will transform the way people communicate while traveling.
At high-elevation destinations, even getting up to open the windows can leave an unacclimatized traveler out of breath. The headaches or nausea that result from altitude sickness can be even worse. That’s why upscale hotels in mountainous locales like Peru or Colorado are beginning to enrich their air-conditioning systems with extra oxygen. The O2 boost reduces altitude-related illness and ensures a more comfortable stay.
Would you prefer to avoid those awkward, unexpected hotel-room encounters with housekeeping? At swanky Hotel 1000 in Seattle, pressing an electronic doorbell for each room employs heat sensors that silently scan the dwelling for your presence. Once housekeeping knows you’re away, the staff can enter and tidy up without disruption. Other hotels use body heat sensors for climate control, saving energy by wirelessly signaling the heating and cooling systems to turn on or shut down as needed.
What innovations would most improve your travel experience? We’d love to hear your thoughts—or any ideas of your own!