‘A solution for the future of travel’ is the promise with which BagsID is launching a technological innovation to improve airport efficiency: baggage biometrics. By participating in the ‘Call for Ideas’ for the Innovation Hub of Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), this young start-up, established in 2018 from an intuition of founder Marlon van der Meer, was able to join ADR's ‘open innovation’ programme to support start-up ideas in the airport sector. Infra Journal interviewed the team for its ‘Rockets’ column, trying to understand how a digitised image that reproduces the entire baggage life cycle from check-in to arrival can ensure a better flight experience for passengers.
What problem does your start-up want to solve? And how did your idea come about?
"BagsID is computer vision software that creates a ‘digital layer’ over the existing airport infrastructure. Through application programming interfaces (APIs) certain baggage information is made available to airports and airlines. BagsID was created after our founder, Marlon van der Meer, an avid and frequent traveller, perceived the need for change in the aviation industry following a series of lost and misconnected luggage. The aim is to replace current thermal tags and other expensive and ineffective technologies with an efficient and sustainable image, exploring the untapped opportunity of luggage biometrics.”
What is the story of your start-up?
“It all started in 2018, when van der Meer began to conceive an idea for a tagless system. From that starting point, we began to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm that provides luggage recognition technology, also known as luggage biometrics. In 2019, we further developed our AI and installed capture arcs at supplier VanderLande's Baggage Handling System (Bhs) test centre in the Netherlands. In 2020, we participated in IAG's Baggage Biometrics Program and won the ‘Hangar 51 Accelerator’ programme. This allowed us to pursue research and development in collaboration with IAG. We also installed four arches at Eindhoven Airport, for imaging and learning. At the end of the tests, we recorded an incredible reading percentage of 99.03 per cent.”
How does the technology behind your innovation work?
“We have developed luggage recognition technology by taking pictures of suitcases and combining them with virtual tags or LPNs (Licence Plate Numbers). These images are sent to our artificial intelligence, which will be able to recognise luggage anywhere along the route.”
What results have you achieved so far?
“In 2021 we carried out a luggage recognition demonstration in cooperation with Iberia at Madrid airport. In addition to the demonstration, we participated in the ‘Plug and Play’ programme with established companies such as Fraport, Bru Airport and many others. Our ambition is to achieve a tagless baggages future in 2030.”
What are the quantifiable benefits of your solution (in airport management / passenger experience)?
Our technology can help solve many of the challenges facing the airline industry today. All tag-related problems, such as non-reading, would become a thing of the past. Baggage biometrics can also improve the whole process of baggage handling. Visibility, traceability and reliability will be available to all parties involved. Furthermore, our solution can bring all airports and airlines into compliance with IATA res 753 overnight. One of our main goals is to make luggage travel more environmentally friendly and sustainable.”
What market opportunities have you found and what strengths do you think make the content of your project attractive?
“Our strength lies in our willingness to change without being disruptive; our approach is to make sure that our image-based biometric coverage solution for the entire baggage life cycle from check-in to arrival fits into current processes to ensure a truly seamless passenger and baggage journey. Our team is able to react to any demand in this market, and the attraction is that we are creating a solution that has never been seen before: it is new, bold, innovative and could change the aviation industry as we know it today. The possibilities are endless.”
What are the next steps you intend to take (in the business acceleration process)? And what goals do you set for yourself in the medium to long term?
“BagsID is going through a period of growth, starting with the technical team, to further develop our biometric luggage technology and artificial intelligence recognition. We are also developing other areas, from marketing to integration, from communication to operations. In the medium and long term we are focusing on the realisation of the current proof of concepts and aim to launch and deliver the world's first tagless flight from Eindhoven Airport.”
What is the added value that your young start-up can offer, in its way of working and thinking, both in comparison to more established ones in the market and in open innovation with more structured ones?
“We are a small start-up with big aspirations: to change the landscape of the airline industry with our revolutionary technology. Our internal organisation is small but growing rapidly, which makes communication quick and clear because everyone has their own areas of expertise and knows what is expected of us. BagsID is not a concept, it is a new way of travelling. We offer a solution for the future of travel.”
What is Rocket
'Rocket' is Infra Journal's column dedicated to the most interesting start-ups in the world of infrastructure, mobility and smart cities. In the foreground, there are innovations, stories, ambitions and the faces of those who work there, to get to know the added value that distinguishes each of these young entrepreneurial realities. Rocket is a journey through innovative answers to common needs, a journey designed to discover how these emerging companies develop and grow, the strategies to put their ideas on the 'launch pad' with the aim of 'taking off' and 'flying' on the strength of their business, establishing themselves on the market.
A special space is reserved for projects developed by startuppers from all over the world and presented at the Innovation Hub at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, for an 'open innovation' initiative of Aeroporti di Roma's airport management and services. In response to ADR's 'Call for Ideas' some 530 start-ups expressed interest, of which 96 (62 Italian and 34 foreign) applied to take advantage of the investments offered by ADR to support innovative ideas.