Lonely Planet Writer

Singapore's Changi airport to cut passenger waiting times thanks to augmented reality

The world’s best airport is getting an upgrade. Passengers at Changi airport, Singapore could see shorter waiting times for their flights after SATS – the airport’s ground handler – introduces augmented reality (AR) glasses.

Changi Airport sees millions of passengers every year. Image by Wajahat/Getty Images

SATS announced that 600 members of its ramp-handling staff will be equipped with AR glasses, which will provide them with information in real-time. This new change is expected to increase the efficiency of baggage-handling and shorten loading times by as much as 15 minutes.

Using this new technology, staff will be able to scan visual markers – similar to QR codes – on baggage and cargo and find out information such as weight and unit number.  The glasses will also allow control centre staff to monitor handlers instantaneously.

“This innovation will directly benefit our airport workers, raising their productivity and making their workplace safer,” said Khaw Boon Wan, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport in Singapore. “This is the way to tap on technology to keep our airport and airlines ahead of their competition.”

The airport has a futuristic feel.  Image by Daniel Cheong/GettyImages

Staff at the airport trialled the glasses back in June with four carriers, including Singapore Airlines, and the glasses will soon be released in phases. The technology is expected to be fully implemented by mid-2018. SATS also plans to roll out the AR glasses in its overseas operations, in places like Hong Kong and Indonesia. The smart technology project was developed in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

Changi Airport was voted the world’s top airport for the fifth consecutive year at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Award, and in July unveiled a new terminal with a “boutique design” and a focus on technology. The airport served a record 58.7 million passengers in 2016 and is expected to handle 60 million passengers by the end of the year.