Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week

Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

10 Technology Travel Trends for 2018

Anne says: It’s that time of the year – everyone’s doing it – so I’m joining in to review some of the technology trends to determine how they might impact us or our workplace.

As this is also holiday season and many of us will have flown, or are about to fly somewhere – and as a previous travel/airline executive – I’ve decided to focus on travel technology trends this week. In fact, the airline and airport industry are quite advanced in their use of emerging technologies. In many cases, how these are applied provide both the organisation and the customer extensive benefits. Subsequently, we can look into other organisational contexts to determine if there’s similar or modified opportunities for these technologies.

From the Future Travel Experience article, I’ve selected a few of my faves and in some cases applied my experiences with the technologies.

  1. Biometrics
    As many of us may have already experienced (think Australian electronic passport control), biometrics or fingerprint/facial recognition has been used for a couple of years now. A quote from Changi Airport sums it up: Your face becomes your passport.
    My experience: I use facial recognition on my iPhone X – I love it! Except… it never, ever, recognises me first thing in the morning after I’ve turned off my alarm and want to check the weather. I’ve also been rejected at passport control in Sydney going through the photo gate after a long haul flight. This might say more about how I look after a long flight or first thing in the morning – but if my face is to become my passport, I’m going to need schedule when I need to go through facial recognition!
  2. Robotics
    The use of concierge style robots has already been implemented across a few airports including by KLM in Amsterdam (Schipol), Haneda Airport in Japan, and a couple of others across Asia.
    I haven’t had the good luck to be accompanied by a service robot yet, but I am quite keen to experience the effectiveness. Prediction: You can expect to see a lot more robots in use across airports, particularly SE Asia. The main focus is customer facing, service agents – let’s watch how that continues to develop beyond the novelty phase into the sustainable and scalable phase, but don’t expect to see airports full of robot service agents for a while yet!
  3. Translation technology
    The fun of learning a new language and fumbling your way through daily activities has already fundamentally changed with the use of translation apps on our smartphones. Upping the ante is Google Pixel Buds, claiming to be able to support live translation across 40 languages. Air New Zealand is quoted as the example trialing the buds.
    My experience with live translation: hmmm – be very afraid! Local dialects and regional nuances play havoc with translation apps – so I can only imagine how live translation will go! Imagine a Kiwi, talking to a Scot trying to translate into Chinese! (wink)
  4. Augmented Reality
    Forget the use of augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) for in-flight entertainment (IFE) uses – the sooner all airports have apps that provide wayfinding the sooner we can do away with concierge robots trying to direct us to gates, while dealing with live translations that send you off in the wrong direction! Just give me the AR wayfinding app and I’ll look after myself! Of course, if the airlines could feed their updated information (gate changes) into this app as well – that would be awesome!

The future of travel technology? Personalised, empowered and mobile enabled – simple really!!


Seven corporate wellness trends for 2018 – and beyond

Jakkii says: As we start the new year, hopefully refreshed from a silly season break, it seems timely to reflect on our work and our people and consider what we might do, improve or implement in 2018. Forbes had a piece on 23 Trends That Will Shake the Business World in 2018 I considered sharing this week, but found myself more drawn to these seven trends in corporate wellness, both for their people focus and for the role technology might play in 2018.

In no particular order, my top three of their seven:

Chatbots are supporting wellness

Last year we discussed some of the chatbot apps being developed to help with mental health. This therefore comes as little surprise, however I do wonder about privacy here, as well as the potential impact on those with workplace-based health insurance who choose to participate (such as in the US). Could employers be putting themselves at risk of liability? Perhaps that depends on the sophistication of the chatbot (noting of course that most are, at this stage, quite simplistic), and ultimately may require some education of their workforce.

Sensors are enabling corporate wellness advances

The most interesting of these as described in the article for me is Empath.

Empath is an emotion recognition program that identifies emotions such as anger, joy and sadness by analyzing voice samples. Empath works with Philips’ Hue Smart Lighting and its Utakata Mood Light app, thereby changing the color of the lighting in a room to respond to moods during conversations.

“Visual indicators or other feedback like this can let you know when you’re in alignment, or not, with others,” Bradford said. In turn, that feedback can be useful in promoting positive emotions, team building, productivity and more.

One would imagine these might be turned off during sensitive discussions such as organisational restructures. (wink)

More employers are offering DNA kits

I’m truly fascinated by this, and highly skeptical of it being a broad trend in the workplace. That more people are not skeptical themselves of submitting their genetic profile to a private company is something I still find remarkable; that they would rely on their employer to provide or facilitate such DNA testing is, for me, a stretch. That said, the uptake of‘s DNA kit has been quite extraordinary, so I may be totally off the mark here!

Would you submit your DNA for testing through your workplace?

How might these trends impact your organisation and your workplace?


Virtual reality has added a new dimension to theme park rides — so what’s next for thrill-seekers?

Joel says: Rollercoasters have come a long way since the theme park rides of old, and now thrill-seekers and park operators are look for the next big thing. The trend in the early 2000s was for higher, faster and loopier rides that arguably peaked with the 206kph Kingda Ka rollercoaster at Six Flags, New Jersey, in the United States. At 139 metres high, it’s the world’s tallest rollercoaster. But what can you do to beat that and offer the experience to the most people possible? Theme park thrill seekers are anxiously awaiting a new record breaking roller coaster, yet theme parks are limiting budgets for ‘record-breaking’ coasters.

So where to next? The answer it seems, is skipping new real-world rides and going virtual.

There are several ways to define what a VR amusement ride experience actually means. The most common way VR is being used on rides at the moment is that the existing ride (rollercoaster, drop tower, water slide) simply has a VR experience laid over the top. You still climb aboard the physical ride and experience all the same twists, turns and acceleration. But you wear a VR headset that enables you to see, and sometimes hear, something completely different to your real-world experience, such as water slides into an experience where you pilot a canoe down an exploding volcano. Or, for example, on the Iron Dragon at Cedar Point in Ohio, you are physically aboard a suspended coaster, but the VR experience sees you flying through an old-timey village while ogres and orcs attack you.

And a new trend is looking at making the entire experience virtual, rather than sitting and being restrained in a physical seat for the ride. This method will breathe new life into existing rides at theme parks and will allow them to create entirely new attractions without the physical development costs and space requirements.

Read the full article for more examples of parks already embracing VR technology and how it may be used to one day build a completely virtual theme park.


The Privatisation of Public Space – good or bad?

Helen says: The share economy wave has brought with it a tide of consumer benefits including lower prices, greater choice and new services conveniently accessible from mobile devices.

However, this economy does not come without its negatives.  A publicised and very visible example is oBikes stranded across Sydney and Melbourne polluting the landscape and causing safety concerns. Tony Featherstone, a writer on personal finances, specialising in SMSFs, identifies another concern, the unfair playing field on which these disrupters compete.

He states: “privatisation of public space is a key part of the business models of some disrupters,” concluding, “when shared-economy companies permanently or semi-permanently use public space – paid for and maintained by residents through their rates – without a permit or fee. It’s unfair on residents and on small businesses that must pay their way.”

Tony agrees that “big disrupters are good for consumers and bring much-needed competition to companies that have layers of fees and poor service. The issue is whether they are getting too many free kicks over established small businesses.”

What do you think?