🕶e8: What Will Future Air Travel Look Like? What The Heck Is HBO MAX? Scooter Gang Is Here To Stay!

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✈️ Pack The Bags, It’s CABO TIME…oh wait: Since the 9/11 attack nearly 19 years ago, in-air safety has changed dramatically. And with it, so has the pre-boarding experience. Terminals have undergone extraordinary transformations – from full bars, malls, spas, and exclusive pop-up shops, to food courts outfitted with iPads resting atop every dining surface. However, new fears regarding the safety and cleanliness of airline passengers must now be addressed.  Let’s take a look at what is currently happening inside our airports and what that means for your next travel plans.

The Future

As the CDC recommends, the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is by social distancing. However, the shrinking legroom and increasingly invasive reclining seat feature that passengers have been subjected to over the years begs the question – what must change in order for us passengers to feel safe in the skies once again?

  • Jet Blue, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United, and more have required that masks be worn for the duration of the flight 

  • Getting hungry? Expect your food and snacks to be delivered in bento boxes in an effort to help reduce contact

  • XpresSpa Group Inc. has discussed with airports and healthcare partners utilizing their airport real estate portfolio, which consists of 46 locations across 23 airports, to provide COVID-19 testing and screening sites

  • Opposing this idea, however, is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has issued warnings about the potential risks and failures of fever detection systems. They warn not only of the asymptomatic carriers who might not request testing but also of the inherent inaccuracy of the tests which might allow fever-possessing passengers with false negatives to roam the skies

  • Italian Cabin Interior Design Firm Aviointeriors released mockups of what a new cabin might look like in the near future. Fingers crossed we no longer have to deal with shoulder snorers

  • Check out this mockup of a day in the life of a “future” airline passenger 

Ev’s Take

As the pandemic starts to reside, the primary goal of airports and airlines will be to limit passenger contact with surfaces, along with exposure to airport staff. I believe this might spark new startups to accelerate into the contactless technology space. Touch-free technology will allow passengers to limit human interaction and contact from the second you arrive at one airport to the minute you leave another. Currently, United is testing a contactless tagging method that allows customers to register bags before their flights and then confirm with a QR code upon arrival at the airport. (At least we won’t have to deal with the long waits of checking your bag, AMIRITE?!) 

What does the change in travel mean for future business travel? If in-person meetings are deemed necessary, perhaps businesses might be willing to shell out a little extra to fly their employees in business or first-class, or even all be replaced with zoom!

Although it’s hard to predict what the near future will look like with the number of new cases finally beginning to slow down, I do believe contact-less startups will spark investors’ attention, leveraging intelligent operational and passenger technologies, along with innovation in AI, bio-metrics, mobility. Solutions are always an attractive concept, even if implementing change in the airline industry is cumbersome and requires alignments and approval from all parts of the airline ecosystem. All in all, it is imperative that companies not only start thinking of a detailed plan on how they are going to implement new technologies, as well as utilize existing ones, but also EXECUTE!

📺 HBO MAX, What Even Are You? Is it just me, or do you ever spend more time scrolling through Netflix than you do watch whatever it is you decide on? AT&T’s WarnerMedia and HBO revealed their new streaming service, “HBO Max”, on Wednesday morning, capitalizing on the demand for HBO’s premiere shows and movies, as well as the overall increasing demand for streaming services. How is the plan going so far? SensorTower said HBO was downloaded 87,000 times on the day of its release via the App Store and Google Play, compared with over four million first-day downloads for Disney+, and 300 million for Quibi. What the heck is HBO even doing? Let’s take a look!

What Can We Expect?

It’s estimated that approximately 75% of the United States population PAYS for Netflix, a subscription that costs as little as $8.99 per month. In comparison, HBO Max subscriptions cost $14.99 per month. Why not offer more competitive pricing? HBO and Warner Bros. executives believe they have an inventory even more valuable to offer. Coupled with HBO’s prestigious library, and WarnerBros vast array of rich content, HBO Max is set to launch with over 10,000 hours of hit movies and TV shows including the Harry Potter series, FriendsThe Big Bang Theory, and Game of Thrones. In addition, HBO Max plans to produce in-house television specials and movies, seeing as many main streaming platforms have seen recent success with their own homegrown creations. Aside from content, HBO is trying to redefine the status quo with its newly designed “UI” (User Interface). Netflix set a standard with their data-driven recommendations, but HBO personalizes to your watch history using more specific human elements, such as a particular actor or character.

Ev’s Take

While I understand HBO’s desire to get a piece of the streaming service pie, I believe they got it ALL wrong. As HBO Max was set to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more, they fell short in providing the main premium features consumers look for. 

First off, HBO Max will not be offered on Roku or Amazon Fire Stick (70% of streaming is currently consumed through those mediums). Secondly, HBO Max will NOT support 4k. While I’m no TV binger, charging a monthly premium higher than the industry standard seems a bit unfair when I have to downscale my new 4k Smart TV to 1080p (yes, I fully acknowledge my first world problems).

In conclusion, HBO reminds me of myself freshman year, just trying to figure it all out without any real sense of direction. HBO Max doesn’t seem to max out on any features and will definitely be asking themselves soon – how do we compete in the already advanced market?

🛴 Scoot Gang Ain’t Leaving Anytime Soon! As the sun returns for the summer months and citizens reach their dormancy limits, streets and sidewalks are beginning to fill up (not so hype if you live in LA like me). Although e-scooters have garnered a lot of attention from consumers and investors, cities and legislation are opposed to scooters as a convenient transportation method, concerned they exist as a sidewalk hazard. The solution? Automated driving capabilities (autonomy)! Scooters equipped with autonomy are able to return remotely to their charging docks, booting the reliance on manpower (or rather, the threat posed by human laziness). Furthermore, autonomy eliminates the requirement of cars or trucks to transport the scooters, translating to the main benefit of shared micro-mobility – carbon emission reduction! 

The first company to take the leap was GoX, which partnered with Tortoise to add its autonomous-capable software and cameras on its fleet in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The company really utilized this time to focus on developing and testing autonomous features in anticipation of the return to normalcy. Now, this is what I like to see! 

The Facts

  • 100 remote-controlled scooters are being piloted at the city-owned Curiosity Lab technology testing ground in Peachtree Corners, Georgia

  • Citizens will be able to hail a scooter via an app, and the vehicle will be automatically returned to a base when the ride is over

  • During the six-month pilot, scooters will integrate geofencing to ensure they stay within the designated 500-acre Curiosity Lab technology park, where 7,500 people work and more than 1,000 people live

Ev’s Take

Though the novel Coronavirus negatively impacted the short-term for many micro-mobility startups, the demand for scooters is here to stay. According to a new forecast from IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, 4.6 million shared scooters will be in operation worldwide by 2024, up from 774,000 in 2019. I’m a firm believer that the transportation space will change most dramatically within this next decade, and startups like Go X are taking a step in the right direction and paving the future of autonomy. 

Though I expect this level of change to occur within the imminent future, I must also note that different complexities and uncertainties that companies must combat in order to see autonomy anytime soon are often underestimated. Hacking security, liability, and most importantly acceptability, are going to have to be the pillars of any company looking to roll out autonomy to consumers. In fact, one company, Uber’s Jump (which is now part of Lime as part of restructuring) had already begun looking into autonomy, but that project is now canceled.

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