Opinion: Wearables shaping smart ticketing


By Joanne Thompson, CEO at Penrillian

Smart ticketing is already shaping the way that contactless technology is being used to make travel easier. Juniper Research carried out a study last year that found that transport ticketing is increasingly being driven by mobile, and goes on to predict that mobile devices, including wearables, will account for more than one in every two digital tickets purchased by 2019.

As variants of mobile technology inevitably replaces most instances of the paper ticket, so it is likely that innovators in the transport ticketing arena will turn their attention to the promise of ubiquity for wearable devices.

Mickey Mouse pioneer

An early pioneer of wearable ticketing is Disneyland, which spent $1billion on the Magicband, a colourful rubber wristband with enough battery to last for two years. The Magicband replaces entry and transport tickets, hotel keys, and payments in merchandise stores. It also replaces the fast pass and can even automatically order your favourite meal as you enter a restaurant. Customers have the option to choose their preferences beforehand when booking, so their entire experience becomes more personalised; favourite rides are fast-tracked, and waiters know each guest’s favourite food before they have even sat down at the table.

UK chasing trends

We are already beginning to see early signs of this trend being replicated here in the UK. As operators of transport networks and attractions alike are moving away from paper ticketing and their print-at-home QR equivalents, to using the capability of the mobile device, wearables offer the next step towards integration of services and payment methods.

Local governments can work alongside the transport industry and their local attractions to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience; a wristband device that can acts as a bus ticket, entry pass and either prepaid or debit cash facilities all in one.

Introducing wearable tickets in transport offers numerous benefits, with the personal safety of children perhaps being at the top of the list. A wearable ticket will eliminate the need for a schoolchild to handle an expensive smartphone, a debit card, or cash, instead being able to travel by scanning a wristband, a ring, or even the sleeve of a school blazer.

People travelling alone at night could feel safer simply using such wearables or a chip inserted in their watchstrap to buy a travel ticket, rather than having to rummage around in their bag to retrieve phones or wallets. More convenient, less vulnerable to loss or theft; users will be able to just swipe and go.

Checking the challenges

There are obvious challenges that the transport ticketing and payments sectors must tackle before we begin to see the adoption of wearables on a wide scale, including providing assurances for their users on privacy and security issues.

To provide a wholly integrated and seamless ticketing system for transport, attractions and payments, such wearable devices and applications will need to integrate with multiple platforms and services. But, the opportunities available to early adopters will be immense as consumers elect to use providers who are focused on offering ease of use, and the opportunity for everything they touch to become more connected.

Penrillian creates software solutions for connected and mobile devices.


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