The Rise of Contactless Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the travel and tourism industry to a near standstill with prolonged lockdowns. Now that government authorities across several countries have relaxed air travel restrictions, airports and hotels are trying to re-build confidence in travellers. A massive increase in contactless technology has become a game-changer for the industry in its struggling climate. This has created new and innovative ways to ensure the safety and wellbeing of travellers, especially in transportation.

"The COVID-19 pandemic became a wakeup call for the travel and tourism industry to accelerate investments in contactless technologies like biometric check-in at airports and keyless hotel entry, which significantly reduce potential risks associated with physical touchpoints," said Sneha Nigade, Disruptive Tech Analyst from GlobalData. "Contactless technologies are empowering enterprises to recover from the COVID-19 crisis by digitising the end-to-end journey for travellers. However, biometric technologies raise concerns around personal data being collected and shared, which heightens security risks in the future. The future of travel in the post-COVID-19 world will be increasingly contactless to advocate safety, not only for passengers but also employees in the industry."

From biometric boarding at airports to disinfection robots in public areas, there are many ways to utilise growing contactless technology.

Biometric boarding

Beijing Capital International Airport has partnered with Swiss tech company SITA to automate entire passenger journey using biometric technologies. From the airport check-in and bag drop to security clearance and final boarding, passengers can just walk through the designated lanes equipped with facial recognition systems.

Contactless check-in

Singapore’s Changi Airport has deployed contactless kiosks to automate the check-in process for passengers. The kiosks are integrated with infrared proximity sensors, which can identify the motion of a passenger’s finger as they point towards the options on the screen.

Contactless elevators

Abu Dhabi International Airport has partnered with UAE tech startup Meta Touch to install touchless elevator panel technology. The control panel, installed in 53 elevators at the airport, can be controlled by gestures, allowing people to command an elevator without physically pressing any buttons.

Contactless hospitality

Dutch hotel chain citizenM has launched a smart mobile application to offer customers contactless stays at its hotels. The app helps guests to check-in and out digitally. Guests can also control lights, blinds and temperature inside their rooms using a smartphone.

Disinfection robots

Hong Kong International Airport has deployed intelligent sterilisation robot to rapidly disinfect passenger facilities and public areas. The autonomous robot, equipped with ultraviolet lights and an air steriliser, can sterilise its surroundings in 10 minutes with 99.99 percent accuracy.

Other key use cases of contactless technologies promoting safety in the industry include thermal screening, automated hand sanitisers, mobile apps enabling contactless entry to tourist destinations and contactless payments.