Friends from school will ask me what I’ve been doing with myself for the past few months; I tell them that I’ve been having a great time working at Sabre this summer as an intern. Generally the next question is, “what’s Sabre?” To that I reply, “Sabre is an innovative technology company that leads the travel industry by helping its customers succeed.” After receiving several puzzled stares I follow that statement with, “they own Travelocity,” and I can see the light go on over their head.. This leads me to my point. Some people don’t know much about the groundbreaking innovation we provide, but where does this innovation we tout so proudly in our mission statement come from? The answer, in part, is Sabre Labs, the tip of the spear for technological development at Sabre.
Sabre Labs was created in the mid-1990s with the goal of innovating, creating and testing new technologies in order to keep Sabre at the forefront of the travel technology industry. The Sabre Labs team is made up of some extraordinary talent with members whose diverse backgrounds give a breadth and depth to the team’s capabilities that is very unique. One common trait that the team shares, despite their different fields and backgrounds, is their ability to be creative and think about technologies beyond the bounds of their current incarnations. This team has been working to develop applications and functionalities that not only change the way people look at Sabre but the way they view travel as a whole. The Lab team’s projects, whether the new developments are highly visible or behind the scenes, create some very valuable and innovative results. While Sabre Labs aims to create prototypes (i.e. TripCase) that redefine the travel tech marketplace, more than anything they want to create awareness about the endless possibilities for tech development. They want to showcase capabilities that, while seemingly far-fetched now, could change the future of how we view and use technology. The team aims to create things that help the traveler today but also push the boundaries of what is deemed possible.
We’ve all been there, aimlessly roaming an airport looking for a baggage claim or a gate. It’s never a great experience, especially when trying to make a connection or dealing with a gate change. This is the problem the Sabre Labs team is currently trying to solve. Their solution? “Indoor Location” technology. This technology, when perfected, will allow users to access Global Positioning System capabilities on their smart phones and tablets specific to the building they are in. This would be a major breakthrough in location technology and could lead to much more convenience when traveling. The collection of potentially useful data for Sabre is a very real possibility, something that could help developers as a whole with the use of the Sabre Dev Studio API platform. After some initial trials, the team found that current indoor location capabilities released by some of the larger tech providers on the market are not very accurate. Two different technologies were used to test the location services, bluetooth check points and Wi-Fi routers. Both had benefits and drawbacks but neither one could stand alone and work accurately. This development didn’t faze the team; after some thought they decided on testing a new approach that called for several beacons being used at once in order to triangulate a user’s position. This project is considered big data initiative due to how much raw data this technology could collect. With this data comes an endless amount of useful information if aggregated correctly and several new opportunities have presented themselves to the team. A notable one is a potential addition to the TripCase travel management mobile app, (which had its origins within Sabre Labs) which would allow the busy traveler to order food from the application and have it delivered to their gate upon their arrival. For the far forward thinker, the team even suggested that a group of food carts linked to the app could roam the terminals waiting on customers to land in order to deliver them their food. The possibilities are astounding.
Along with solving the world’s problems when lost in an airport, Sabre Labs has been postin’ up in the “beat laboratory” creating some very “sick” beats – Airport Beats that is. These beats create music (maybe a bit of a stretch but we will go with it) that tell you when every flight is taking off and landing at five of the major airports in the U. S. With this information a listener can determine quite a bit about an airport on any given day. While this new development may not win a Grammy® anytime soon, it will help create data saturation using a sense rather than sight or touch. This could open a whole new frontier for efficient information transmission within the world of travel technology and technology as a whole. Word from the lab is that something involving taste and smell is in the works next. Soon we could be data saturating technology with the taste of cookies or the smell of bacon. I’ll definitely be heading down to the lab to check that one out.
Airport Beats illustrates one of Sabre Labs more philosophical goals. The use of sound to create data saturation is just one example of the new and far-fetched capabilities that Mark McSpadden, the Director of Technology for the Labs team, was talking about and the team is working on in order to revolutionize the way we use technology and receive information. To sum it all up in the words perhaps best spoken by Captain Kirk, “These are the voyages of Sabre Labs, its continuing mission: to explore strange new capabilities, seek out new tech, to boldly go where no one has gone before!” Keep it up team.