Travel in 2024: Wearable translators, VR holiday previews and low-orbit space hotels

Ten years from now travellers will be using an array of wearable tech and digital assistants to aid seamless booking and enjoyment of holidays, according to a report published by holiday booking company Skyscanner and futurist consultancy The Future Laboratory.

Travel destinations will also have widened: as well as globetrotting we will be seeing the stars and plumbing the depths, with hotels in both low-orbit space and underwater, according to the company.

The first part of the report, which is presented in a lush interactive online format, was published today, with parts two and three expected to follow later this year.

Skyscanner head of B2B Filip Filipov said: “With so many emerging technologies it is mind-boggling to imagine just what their impact on travel could be. This report is a sneak peek into the future.”

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Gone will be the days when a visit to a foreign language-speaking country were fraught with desperate miming and embarrassed smiles.

The report predicts that wearable contact lenses will provide real-time translations of menus and signs, while smart devices such as the long awaited Apple iWatch will offer real-time verbal translations, making taxi trips a breeze.

Wearable such as Google Glass will also provide information about the best travel spots through a digital assistant that knows exactly what is required for your ideal holiday.

However, the report doesn’t go into the risk of carrying all of this pricey tech around –  tourists are unlikely to be any less of a target for criminals in a decade, and talking watches aren’t exactly discreet.

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Digital assistants won’t just be with us on holiday, though. Skyscanner reckons they will play a big part in booking the trip too – no more trawling through websites for the best deal, instead a Siri-like entity will provide suggestions based on our likes and dislikes.

We won’t just be seeing pictures of these – the company believes that in a decade we will be able to preview the scenery with digitised panoramic windows. We’ll also be previewing our trips through VR headsets, complete with haptic feedback to tell us how soft the hotel sheets are.

Skyscanner is quick to dispel the idea that this tech will replace holidays entirely, though, probably because it would put them in a tricky position business-wise. However we’re inclined to agree with them – we’ll still be craving true getaways even if our devices can provide a fair approximation.

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Perhaps coolest of all is the notion of holidays to low-orbit space hotels and underwater apartments, but the idea that this will be up and running in a decade is a little questionable. Possibly the super rich might be able to afford a mini-break to space, but for most of us it will be a long time yet before that trip is doable.

Underwater hotels is a more curious one – underwater living has been experimented for decades, but it has ended up being a bit like geodesic dome houses: cool, more-or-less doable but ultimately not a realistic approach. The field needs serious investment if it is to happen, and perhaps if sea levels rise people might begin to take this technology seriously.


Images courtesy of Skyscanner.


3D holographic projections: the future of election campaigns?

For the first time ever, 3D holographic projections will play an instrumental role in a national election.

Today it was announced that Indian Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who represents India’s second biggest political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will be using the technology to simultaneously project himself to more than 100 locations around the country.

Although not the first time the politician has used the technology – he made a Guinness World Record for simultaneously projecting to 53 locations during his 2012 state Assembly campaign – this is the first time it will be used in a national election campaign.

Indian political news website Nit Central quoted a BJP representative describing the event: “People will be called to a pre-defined location where they will get a feeling that Modi is standing among them and addressing them. With this technology, it will enable Modi to reach out to maximum people across the country without actually being present at various locations.”

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The only other politician known to have used the technology is Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who addressed regional members of his party via holographic projection.

Election campaign strategists from around the globe will no doubt be watching how Indian voters respond to Modi’s holographic presence.

In a country of 1.2 billion people, the technology makes reaching out to voters in different regions more achievable. However, some political analysts are concerned that it could make the politician seem aloof and out-of-touch with normal people, alienating him from voters.

If all goes well, though, holographic projections could become a standard feature in the madness of political campaigns around the globe.

Perhaps future US presidential candidates will ‘dine’ with potential voters in hundreds of different diners like Richard Nixon’s Head rival Chris Travers did in the Futurama episode Decision 3012.

Alternatively, political debates could not only be broadcast on TV and online, but could be projected as holograms in towns and cities around the country.

Given the impact that television had on the nature of presidential candidates, it would be interesting to see how holographic projections could impact candidate preference: perhaps the physical fitness of presidential candidates would become more important as individuals were able to see them close-up.

While the use of 3D holographic projections is in its infancy in political sphere, in the entertainment industry use of the technology is growing.

The long-deceased rapper Tupac Shakur performed with Snoop Dogg at Coachella Festival in 2012, in a show that may have fooled many if it weren’t for his famous death in 1996.

Holographic technology has also enabled the fictional band The Gorillaz to go on tour, provided the world with a “live” duet between Elvis and Celine Dion on American Idol and enabled humanoid persona Hatsume Miku to perform to thousands of fans.


Image of Narendra Modi courtesy of Rangilo Gujarati.