AI-powered body scanners promise to speed up endless security lines, and those fancy Wi-fi kiosks are set to jump the Atlantic. US cell customers can now pay a fortune to roam in Cuba, and Google’s eliminating excuses for missing out on cheap flight deals.
Hey, what do you know? It’s Travel Tech News time again.
Much Faster, AI-Powered Body Scanners Coming Soon
Is there a small beacon of hope in the world of endless security delays? Maybe so. Starting in three US airports and transport hubs this month, a startup is testing security scanners that use artifical intelligence to flag threats much faster than current systems.
Using the same millimetre-wave system as the controversial “porn scanners”, passengers will no longer need to remove metal objects from their pockets, or even slow down as they walk through the scanner. Evolv, the company behind the technology, says it can scan up to 800 people per hour.
Rather than sitting behind a monitor, security agents will use a tablet computer instead. They’ll either get an “all clear” message, or a photo of the person overlaid with areas that need further inspection.
Is this better or worse than existing security technology? As long as the company is to be believed, “none of the raw data is stored and none of the data we do keep is traceable to an individual.”
Assuming the privacy invasions are no worse than what we’re already subjected to in airports, and it speeds the process up as much as promised, it’s probably a good thing.
Speedy Free Wi-fi Coming to London Kiosks
Following on from the mixed success of the LinkNYC phonebox project, London is set to see a similar scheme hit the sidewalks (sorry, pavements) of the British capital starting next year.
Existing phoneboxes will be replaced with Link kiosks offering Wi-fi at speeds up to 1Gbps. Users will also be able to call landlines and mobile phones, charge their devices, and access maps and other local services. Costs will be borne by advertisers, keeping the service free to end users.
The borough of Camden will be the first to get the new kiosks. Assuming all goes well, at least 750 Links will be installed across central London and other major cities over the coming years.
Free Wi-fi is already prevalant in London, but these kiosks offer enough in terms of both faster speeds and other services to be useful for travellers. You won’t be able to freely browse the web from a Link screen, though — you’ll need to use your own device for that.
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All Major US Carriers Now Offer Crazy Expensive Roaming In Cuba
Earlier this year, we wrote about the challenges involved in getting online in Cuba. Wi-fi was slow, expensive and hard to find, foreigners couldn’t buy local SIM cards, and roaming options were limited.
While nothing much has changed with the first two options, roaming has become a little easier recently. Verizon lit up its service back in September last year, Spring followed suit, and last month both AT&T and T-Mobile have come to the party as well.
That means all major US carriers offer voice, text and data roaming in Cuba to their customers. Well, as long as those customers have deep pockets. Even T-Mobile, the “uncarrier” with cheap or free roaming in much of the world, charges two bucks a minute for calls, the same amount per megabyte for data, and 50 cents for texts. Prices are no better — and often worse — with the other carriers.
So, I guess the good news is folks from the US can all now roam in Cuba. The bad news is it’ll cost more than the rest of their vacation to do so.
Google Flights Now Tells You When Prices Are Going to Go Up
Don’t you hate missing out on a cheap flight deal because you procrastinated too long? This may or may not be the story of my life, and apparently the folks at Google hate it too. The company’s flight search tool got an update last month to help deal with that exact situation.
Now, when you select a particular route or flight, you may see a notification telling you when prices are likely to increase, and by how much. If that’s not enough to get you to book straight away, you can also sign up to track your route and get email alerts about likely (and actual) price rises.
Now my only excuse for not grabbing those bargains is laziness. I wonder if Google can fix that as well.