A very good boy will administer your test now

There is a pilot project in Finland’s Helsinki airport to screen passengers for Covid-19. It doesn’t involve the use of AI, blockchain, drones, nano-tech or injecting bleach. Instead, researchers at the University of Helsinki have trained dogs, who have a hyper-sensitive sense of smell, to screen passengers for the virus. The program is voluntary.

Recently, German researchers found that Corona-sniffin’ dogs have a 94% accuracy rate. And they can “sniff out the virus in a person who is asymptomatic… They detected it at an earlier stage than a PCR test, the most widely used diagnostic tool for the new coronavirus.” [NYT]

Story in NYT

Why it’s Hot

This test would feel so much better than the up-the-nose swab. Better still, this method could serve as a more efficient screening method so we don’t use up Covid-19 tests that always seem to be scarce in the United States.

You can now book an Uber ride without a phone for the first time

uber kiosk

For the first 10 years, Uber was more or less useless to those without a phone. But that’s finally starting to change.

Earlier this month, the ride-hailing giant rolled out a kiosk at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport that allows passengers to book a ride without a smartphone. The company says it’s designed to create greater access for travelers who might have a difficult time using the app because of language or tech issues.

Why it’s hot: book rides with no data plan or cell phone reception.


The Real Time Taxi

United Airlines started to face a challenge when they moved all of their flights from JFK to Newark – New Yorkers do not like to fly from Newark because they considered it too far away. To help with this problem, the airline created a data-centric campaign using digital displays on taxis to give live companions of travel times to JFK and Newark.

They worked with Verifone (tech company) to create the technology and Curb (taxi-hailing app) to provide real-time travel time estimates to each airport based on the cars location and traffic.

As a result, more than 810,000 new passengers chose to fly out of EWR during the period the campaign ran.

Why it’s hot: Price and convenience are key drivers that influence consumer decisions when it comes to purchasing flight tickets. United Airlines’ campaign cleverly used live data and met a key consumer pain point – convenience.

Source: Contagious

kit kat gives delayed fliers a proverbial break…

In both a kind gesture and a great demonstration of its brand’s stated “purpose”, Kit Kat created a vending machine at Sao Paulo airport in Brazil that reads travelers’ boarding passes and dispenses them a Kit Kat if their flight is delayed.

Why It’s Hot:
It’s always great to see a brand use its marketing dollars toward something that isn’t completely and utterly self-serving. Instead of an ad, they made something that might truly do something for people, a true relationship builder. Plus, they did it to address a notoriously painful experience all of us have had.


Luggage checks itself in at airports

According to the Daily Mail, Samsonite and Samsung have been developing luggage that can identify itself, tell you if it’s being opened if you are not around and even follow you around.  Working through GPS locators, the luggage will sync with a smartphone app to keep you apprised of your luggage’s condition and location at all times. That means if you don’t see the luggage at the carousel when you get off a flight, you can immediately track it through your app.  It will also send an alert if it is moved or opened during the flight.

A built-in chip could also help bags check themselves in at airports.  The chip would ping the airport when you arrive, identify the luggage and remotely tag it with flight and destination.  You would then drop off the luggage at a carousel where it would be weighed and placed in line for onboarding.

Finally, the two companies are developing luggage that would follow about 6 inches behind you as you walk through the airport.  With a built-in motor and GPS tracker, the luggage would make walking through the airport or to your hotel much easier.

Samsonite’s Smart Luggage Can Check Itself in at the Airport

Why it’s hot

The ability to check your luggage automatically, track where it is and even see if it’s been opened are practical GPS applications that make your life easier and travel a little less stressful.  Once introduced, look for the trend in smart luggage to accelerate quickly.