Technology seems to be advancing faster and faster with each passing year. We used to wonder if the gadgets we saw in Sci-Fi movies ever would become reality. Nowadays, “if” is no longer the question; we simply ask, “When?” 

In the past few years we’ve seen profound traction in the ways technology can enhance and amplify travel experiences. Here are some of the trends we’ve identified for 2015.

Mobile apps will continue to simplify every aspect of travel.

If past performance is the best indicator of future performance, then we anticipate some of our favorite travel-related apps to get even more robust and easier to use. Some of the feature and usability improvements that we’ve seen on our favorite travel apps such as Expedia and Alaska Airlines already have made it easier to plan, manage, and share our travel experiences. OneNote, our go-to travel planning solution, underwent several major updates this year, including becoming available for Mac and iOS users. We expect even greater things from apps in 2015.   

We also anticipate that by the end of 2015, many travelers will be using their mobile devices to check-in to hotels and even unlock hotel room doors. Wearables will play a big part in this, too. Some of these innovations already are reality at select Starwood Hotels properties. We expect to see more of them over the coming months.

OneNote – great for organizing travel

 

New tools will speed up airport logistics. 

We have enjoyed the simplicity of Global Entry, the TSA’s expedited passport control kiosks for “trusted travelers,” for a while. Aspects of this technology have allowed us to breeze through security when arriving home from international destinations. Now many of these aspects are being rolled out to the general public.

In 2015, the traveling public should see Passport Express show up at more airports. This is the new automated passport control system that recently debuted (with much fanfare) at Miami International Airport. Ultimately, the technology should enable U.S. and Canadian citizens to have their passports processed at self-service kiosks in less than two minutes.

Other improvements will come in the area of flight check-in. Alaska Airlines is leveraging technology to simplify that part of the process by allowing flyers to print claim tickets for checked baggage at home or via kiosks at the airport. With airlines in a race to woo travelers, we’re certain that this technology is going to be more broadly available in 2015.

Viewfinder Tip: You can find a curated list of free travel apps at the Expedia Media Lounge within the Expedia app.

Home automation will help to take the worry out of being away. 

People have been daydreaming about home automation for years, but it seems like the future is here today. Companies such as WEMO(R) have delivered on the promise of an automated home. Now you can be thousands of miles away from home (or just across town) and still control your lights, your door locks, and your thermostats. There is little doubt in our minds that home automation is going to become even more commonplace in 2015.

Language barriers will finally be torn down.

Technology moves so fast these days that we’re not always as wowed by the advancements as we ought to be. That is, until something like Skype Translator comes along. Simply put, Skype Translator automatically translates your voice conversation into another language. This happens in near real-time. With this tool, you easily can connect with individuals who don’t speak your language, and make those calls from pretty much anywhere in the world.

Technology has played a key role in travel for quite some time, but we are just now seeing some of the most exciting advancements yet. Now if only someone would figure out teleportation… 

How has technology made travel easier for you?