October 23, 2013
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THE TECH SET. Machines Ruling our World.

These days, flying’s not always first class. But change is on the horizon—and we’re talkin’ a lot more than just extra legroom. Here’s a sneak peek at ten emerging technologies that will help make the skies friendly again.

10. The Smart Tray

Imagine… a new breed of tray table designed specifically to optimize your in-flight iPad experience. The new Smart Tray—from the aptly named Smart Tray International—has a USB-equipped charging slot that stands your tablet up at a 75-degree angle for totally hands-free use without wasting table space. Learn more »

9. The Delta Social App

In addition to pointing out landmarks and geographic POIs, the new Delta Airlines social app actually tells you which friends you’re flying over en route to your destination. Tag them, write them a post, like their status… and, by all means, let them know you’re 30,000 feet above them. Learn more »

8. The Zodiac Reversible Seat

The Zodiac airline seat lets travelers shift their seat backs to the front-end of their seat cushion, so they can sit facing the tail instead of the nose… and, possibly, a friend who’s sitting behind them. Learn more »

7. The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000

Unlike its cars, Rolls-Royce makes aircraft engines that are quiet, unassuming and efficient. Powering Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, the Rolls Trent 1000s are fitted with a unique scalloped casing that eases the exit of hot gasses and makes for quieter cruising. Learn more »

6. The Bagdrop BV

Bagdrop Systems is one of several new companies developing automated baggage-checking technology. You simply print a Bagdrop RFID tag at home, then drop your bag at a Bagdrop kiosk and go. An automated scanning, weighing and ID-ing system takes care of the rest. Learn more »

5. The CLEAR Program

Automated airport security? It’s not as scary as it sounds. With the new CLEAR Program, you pay a yearly fee for a membership card which allows you to pre-verify your identity at a CLEAR retinal scan kiosk. You then go through an expedited security lane for the baggage scan. Learn more »

4. Dornier Technologie Systems Glass PCU

New technology in development from Dornier Technologie Systems promises to make your in-seat comfort truly personal, with a touch-activated digital panel. Change the seating angle, lumbar support, cushion firmness and several other comfort factors. You can even get a massage. Learn more »

3. Thales Eye Tracking and Gesture Control

In-flight video units can already be found in the backs of many passenger airliner seats. However, the proposed Thales system uses eye motion and gesture tracking technology to make the experience seamlessly interactive. Watch movies, play games, check emails—all with a flick of your wrist… and your… eyeballs. Learn more »

2. Google Glass

Pilots benefit from HUD (Heads Up Display) technology in the cockpit, and now passengers can too—with the forthcoming Google Glass wearable display tech. By integrating into an airport’s wireless network, Google Glass can provide a real-time “virtual route” leading you directly to your gate—or wherever else you want to go. Learn more »

1. Express Skyways

Airbus Aeronautics, the EU’s leading commercial aviation firm, envisions intelligent aircraft that will one day have the ability to “self-organize” into formations, thereby improving overall airflow efficiency within the group—much like birds do. This will reduce flight times, as well as fuel usage. Learn more »

Matt Donahue is Senior Copywriter at Seed Strategy. 

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