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Start-ups taking flight inside San Diego Airport's Innovation Lab

Posted at 6:19 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 21:34:21-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An old airport terminal turned innovation lab hopes to ultimately improve the customer experience at San Diego International Airport (SAN).

The second group of innovators has begun the 16-week accelerator program to "field test" and develop their concepts in a real-world airport environment.

The Innovation Lab was launched to reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry. Its goals are to develop concepts that can enhance the passenger experience, improve operational efficiency, increase revenues and/or decrease costs.

The 3,500-square-foot space offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket counters and a bag claim carousel, all without passenger or security concerns to work around.

"We wanted to provide a location where we could invite innovators in to test their solutions," said Rebecca Bloomfield, spokesperson for SAN.

Jon Wisner, Director of Business Development & Partnerships at HOHM Inc., says they've already gotten good feedback on a sleeping pod they hope to bring to airports.

"What we are trying to validate is the best usage for the pod - whether it be used for a nap, lactation room, or privacy just in general, meditation, prayer," said Wisner.

The pods are currently being tested by airport staff.

The five entrants include:

  • AirporTour - testing interactive airport guides with audio tours
  • Ciari Guitars, Inc. - offering a guitar kiosk featuring a foldable, travel guitar where travelers can play and/or listen to music while relaxing
  • HOHM, Inc. - providing high-tech sleep pods for travelers to rest in for 30-minute to four-hour periods in otherwise underutilized space
  • InnoTech Systems LLC - using autonomous robot guides to provide navigation through the airport and other travel assistance
  • Nuvve Corporation - pioneering vehicle-to-grid applications at airports with excess electric vehicle (battery-stored) energy sold back to the grid or buildings during peak demand times

At the end of 16 weeks the companies will have a chance to pitch their company and hopefully land a contract with SAN.