The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have announced an iOS AR app to help passengers make sure their hand luggage is the right size. This might sound like a first-world problem, but it’s actually a real issue for passengers.
Our ability to fly using aircraft is without a doubt one of the greatest achievements in human history, but air travel itself is still quite a hassle at the best of time. While things are now better than before thanks to things like online check-ins and the ability to take your own selection of movies onboard, the bit in the airport before you get on is enough to make anyone bite off their own tongue,
Sure, a lot of that hassle is down to an ever growing list of (mostly) pointless security measures. However, the other big source of misery is getting your luggage on to the plane.
You see, while no one really cares about how big your checked luggage is, it really matters when it comes to hand luggage. There is only so much space in the overhead compartment. So hand luggage bags need to be below certain dimensions in order to fit safely. Measuring them with tape or using the sizing thing at the airport are the two way it’s usually done, but this AR app has another approach.
Apples and, er, Apples
As we mentioned in the lede, this app is only available for iOS users at this point. The reason is pretty obvious. Apple has implemented ARKit, which is a powerful AR API that only works on Apple hardware. Google is working on a similar solution for Android, but thanks to device fragmentation and variable hardware, it’s not quite as mature as the Apple tools are.
ARKit allows software to accurately measure the size of objects in the real world, among other things. KLM have used this ability in a very practical way. When you use their application, you’ll see a virtual piece of luggage projected next to your real luggage. If your real luggage fits within that ghostly image, then you should be good to go.
While this simple yet ingenious use of AR by KLM has to be applauded, the fact that it’s only available on iOS devices is a bit of a bummer. Yes, I understand why this is the case but it just reminds us of all the useful stuff we could all be doing with AR if Google just manages to finish work on its own AR API. So if you have an iPhone then your days of struggling to size your luggage may now be over. Isn’t the future just grand?