Airbus Plans In-Plane Tracking, Including Passenger Bathroom Visits

The Internet of Things involves tracking things, and now it’s coming to the insides of airplanes.

Airbus is adding IoT connected cabin technologies on an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft to create what they call the “Airspace Connected Experience,” which even includes the tracking of passengers waiting outside the plane’s lavatories.

The technology includes connected seats, connected galleys and remote wireless cabin management control, all aimed at enabling “significant value-adding services for passengers, airlines and crews,” according to Airbus.

The connected cabin promises such features as the ability for passengers to remotely order preferred meals, book a private bin space, set individual seat positions and create tailored in-flight entertainment options.

Another idea is for airlines to generate additional revenue by creating personalized retail and ads, presumably targeted seat-by-seat.

The outside-the-lav tracking would involve blurring out the images of the people waiting so they are not identifiable, according to Airbus.

“Airbus with its customers are studying use of an on-board camera/sensor system located in the area where passengers typically wait outside the lav,” an Airbus spokesperson told me. “This would, for example, sense how many people are queuing there, at what times and how quickly or slowly the queue moves.”

The tracking would provide info for trend analysis, such as how many times the lav door opens and closes and occupancy times.

“The system will help airlines to provide their passengers with the right amount of lav facilities/amenities that they need on board, especially by knowing the level of demand during peaks times,” Airbus said. “The sensors could also alert cabin crew if somebody has been locked inside the lav for a very long time, who could be ill or need assistance.”

The Internet of Things is heading into the sky.

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