High tech travel is now officially a thing with more and more holiday companies using devices like virtual reality headsets and robots to appeal to travellers.
Travel and tech: a match as perfect as cold cider and summer afternoons. As more people travel than ever before, there's a growing demand from young travellers for tech saavy products that fit in with their on-the-go schedules. Travels apps and gadgets are one thing, but the industry is now looking for bigger fish in the travel pond. From futuristic windowless planes to floating 'city' cruise liners, we round up the (slightly sci-fi) possibilities of the future.
1. Virtual Reality Headsets
Want to travel from Cuba to Canada without the hassle of packing, planes and passports? This may soon be a possibility thanks to Virtual Reality (VR) headsets which are tipped to be the next big thing in travel. Users wear the headset which transports them on virtual tours around the world - from the beaches of Brazil to the barrios of Barcelona. Marriott Hotels have swooped in on the trend by setting up a '4D' immersive VR experience in several of their lobby's which encourages guests to explore the world from the comfort of the hotel foyer. With Google Cardboard (a budget headset) recently released, this trend is now becoming even more accessible and is being tested by travel companies keen to encourage people to book by giving them a visual sample of their trip. For hotels in particular it means you can 'walk' around your room and check out the view, all before you decide to book. We know what we'll be doing the next rainy Monday morning...
2. Cruises of the Future
The world's biggest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, made headlines when it docked in the UK in 2016, largely thanks to its high tech spec and design. Featuring a range of Star Trek worthy features including robotic bartenders, virtual balconies for inside cabins (which project real-time ocean views) and RFID WOWBands that are used as room keys and payment methods, there's also an on-board app that can be used (like a concierge) to make reservations and track luggage. If that's not quite techy enough for you then there's always the City of Meriens - a sci-fi idea in the making, designed by a French architecture firm. This huge 'floating city' ship looks like a giant manta-ray and promises outstandingly luxurious accommodation spread over bionically designed decks, an internal lagoon and sea-life research centre. Just your standard cruise then.
3. Robotic Concierge
Want the hottest tickets in town or to find out where to eat like a local? Concierge's are a great addition to any hotel experience yet like much of the travel world, even this age-old trend is getting a technical revamp. Hilton Hotels in partnership with IBM have recently built 'Connie,' a robotic concierge that can do everything from advise on local tourist attractions to pass on information about the hotel. On a bigger scale is the Henn-na Hotel in Japan, where all employees are robots including the Velociraptor-bot on reception who checks guests in (yeah, we think it's weird too).
4. Futuristic Flights
Hardly a day goes by when an airline doesn't announce a swanky new addition to its fleet. From sleek bars and sleep pods to Eithad's new Residence Suite - a one of a kind luxury three-roomed 'apartment' in the sky - air travel is fast becoming more than a cattle class seat and a bag of free pretzels. Now, planes are being refitted with everything from spa worthy showers to free, on-board WiFi. As well as talks about creating a fully solar powered aircraft, a design team from Imperial College London have come up with an even more daring plane spec, aimed to be built by 2030. In the designs, VR headsets will replace in flight movies and rather than windows, the whole interior will be a real-time image of the outside world. Thanks to innovative use of wing space, these space ship style planes (complete with walking areas and several bars) will be able to fit around 1000 passengers. Let's just hope they upgrade the plane food while they're it.
5. Translation Tech
While Brits may favour the speak-loudly-in-English-and-gesticulate method of communicating in other languages, in today's climate of apps, devices and other gadget wizardry the time has finally come to master the art of speaking another language. Step forward ili. Set to launch in summer 2016, ili is a wearable translator that lets users instantly communicate in different languages. It works without WiFi or internet and is about the size of a slim iPod, making it perfect for when you're on the go. You speak in, ili translates and speaks to the person you're talking to in their native language. We predict this to be a major game-changer in the travel world; for starters, it recently won a CES Innovation Award. It currently supports English, Chinese and Japanese and the developers are working quickly to make it compatible with a range of different languages. Maybe now you'll finally get over that F in GCSE French.