Electronic SIM, robotic vending machine: 5 technologies that could revolutionise travel showcased at Dubai event

ForsaTEK is a platform created to celebrate innovation in the aviation industry


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 9 Mar 2023, 7:48 PM

A robotic arm, an electronic SIM card and a mobility chair were some of the items on display at the first ever ForsaTEK, organised by Emirates Group. This is an annual event and a platform to celebrate innovation in the aviation industry.

The event featured several partners of the group - including Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, Airbus and Microsoft. It also featured more than 20 start-ups, who are part of the incubators Intelak or Aviation X Lab. Both start-up incubators and accelerator programme were founded by Emirates along with partners to encourage innovations.

At the inauguration ceremony, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said, "ForsaTEK is another platform to showcase technological initiatives and its applications in our industry. Together with our like-minded partners and some of the brightest minds spanning industries, we've built a robust incubator ecosystem that is delivering cutting-edge initiatives in travel."

Here is a list of 5 innovations at the souq that caught our attention:

1. Robotic vending machine

Imagine a robotic hand that waves at you and does a little dance while you wait for your coffee. That’s exactly what the local company VLT Vending service has designed.

Serving both coffee and ice cream, the robotics vending machine is in high demand, according to its makers. “We have orders for at least 8 machines right now,” said Mikhail Mitryakov, founding partner of VLT. “Currently we have the capability of manufacturing at least 5 units a month.”

According to the makers, the robotic arm finds application in malls, parks and of course airports. “We are hoping to find some funding to expand our operations,” he said.

2. Electronic SIM

Another innovation on display was an electronic SIM by a partner of Emirates Thales. According to the makers, the electronic SIM will convert to the local SIM of the country wherever its owner travels to. According to Emirates COO Adel Al Redha, the innovation could be a game changer. “When a traveller lands in the country, they will get a message asking whether they want to switch to the local SIM,” he said. “It will charge the owner according to the local charges of the country. We are now working with them to see how we can integrate and offer it to our customers.”

3. Geo mobility travel

An autonomous wheelchair that will offer freedom of movement to thousands of travellers with restricted abilities, Geo was designed by Michael after he saw his father struggling to function because of his mobility. “We estimate that at least 10 per cent of travellers have limited movement and often have to sacrifice a pleasant travelling experience because of it,” said a spokesperson for the startup. “We want to integrate the chair in such a way that it can also give reminders about the time of boarding and when the traveller should report to the boarding gate.” The group are hoping to secure funding to further refine the design of the chair.

4. Dubz baggage check-in

A company founded in 2017 and later acquired by Dnata, Dubz offers at home check-in services. The company have weighing machines, their own vehicles and all devices needed to complete the check-in process. They also issue boarding passes. According to founder Sameer Sobh, the demand for the service is extremely high. “We serve thousands of passengers every year across several airlines,” he said. The service also delivers baggage to travelers who dont want to wait at the airport after arriving in the country.

5. Holitoor

A bespoke holiday planning website, Holitoor allows visitors to the UAE to input the number of days and the kind of vacation they want and provides them with a complete list of activities they could do. It helps tourists plan their itineraries as well as manage their bookings in one place. “There is a lot of information out there on popular travel websites,” said founder Mohammed Nameel. “We try to simplify it for the tourist. For example, there are desert safaris for Dh75 and Dh750. We explain to people what the difference is between the two.”


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