Are Tablets Better Travel Companions Than People?

Tablets are becoming a must-have tool for seasoned travelers and weekend warriors alike, supporting them at various points during their trip.

Portability, versatility and increasing computer performance of tablets are bringing completely new experiences, changing how we enjoy entertainment, shop, gather information, communicate and blend our digital and real worlds. This series by PSFK and Intel explores how improving tablet capabilities are changing the status quo in many aspects of our lives.

The future of leisure and adventure travel might be enhanced by a slew of new technologies from wearable tracking devices to augmented reality experiences, but this travel season a wide variety of applications could make tablets the essential tool for many travelers.

We’re sure to see more people holding up their tablets to snap a picture of a tourist attraction, but keep in mind that tablets are becoming more multifunctional, allowing people to be creative and control important and fun aspects of their lives all with one device.

For many, tablets are already reliable travel companions, making trip planning easier, but on top of that many new applications are aiming to make adventures more engaging and memorable.

When deciding where to go on holiday, 76% percent of global travelers say that they’re influenced by the allure of visiting somewhere new, according to TripAdvisor’s 2014 Trip Barometer report. And once they arrive, experiencing local culture is a big priority.

That’s where mobile apps are helping travelers.

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Planning apps like TripAdvisor, TripIt and Google Maps have become trusty utilities, while Mint for budgeting and Expensify or Concur are helping people manage detailed and work travel expenses quickly and easily while on the go.

But beyond planning and managing trips, travelers can now use new apps on their tablets that uncover valuable information about unfamiliar environments, unlock rich visuals that augment real life experiences and offer access curated advice to find the best a city or destination has to offer.

Tablet app designers are even creating new ways of interacting with the device, ensuring travelers stay focused on the task at hand in order to get the most out of destinations and travel between. Apps like Triposo have been around for some time, but empower travelers by offering contextual  recommendations based on the time, weather, and more. This is helping travelers during their trips by overlaying relevant information onto nearby environments, making recommendations, and offering in-the-moment assistance when away from home.

For those who enjoy the benefits of the Internet wherever they go, tablets bring a blend quick access to entertainment and control over more important things. Home security systems, video chat with neighbors and family, and even aspects of work can be only a click away when traveling with a tablet.

Social and Multi-Media Maps to Find Your Way

While on vacation, the need to connect with family, home or, dare we, work can occur at any given moment, but the aim of any travel adventure is to crack open our imagination by immersing ourselves in unfamiliar places and take in the surroundings, history and culture. PAR Works‘ MARS app can help. It delivers on-demand content to mobile devices by projected augmented reality content on the structures in front of them.

The free app allows users to simply take a photo of any object they wish to identify, and the app will overlay information, including links to video and web pages about the point of interest or historical landmark.

This open source app is curated by the community and allows anyone from history buffs to street artists to manually enter data. It also allows users to view trending MARS-enabled places and objects, and helps people find things near their current location.

While the idea of resigning yourself to the unknown is an appealing part of any excursion, the chance to contextually locate information about the architecture or landmark before us only adds to the overall experience.

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Get Tips from People Who Know Best

A well curated trip can separate a good one from a great one, the latter of which usually arrives with the recommendations of locals. But what if those recommendations came from not only someone who loves their city, but is also someone whose perspective you admire? Valet.com serves its select members with local ideas for shopping, dining, arts and entertainment. The site features city guides from a handpicked network of artists, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople around local attractions, hotels and dining.

By offering information that wouldn’t necessarily be publicly shared, the members-only Valet site keeps the best of a local city removed from the mainstream, creating a feeling of being in-the-know for its members.

Language and Local Customs

To get true local flavor, robust language apps like Travel Interpreter can take you there. This talking, illustrated phrasebook translates English into 29 languages, each voiced by a native speaker.

More than 2,200 phrases and words are included for each language, all of which are clearly categorized according to topics such as customs, hotel, service, driving, car services, sightseeing, entertainment, eating and drinking, sport and leisure.

Even if you can’t master the local language of your vacation spot, you can use the app on your tablet to order plane tickets, book hotel rooms, take a car to be repaired or order a meal in a restaurant.

Whether it’s a laptop, 2 in 1, tablet, smartphone, wearable or some still unknown device, the technology of choice for travelers is sure to evolve to suit a variety of needs. In its Future of Travel report, Skyscanner predicted that by 2020 Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology could be allow traveler’s devices to recognize and react to human emotions.

The report pointed out that this could be very useful for travelers, as the camera is being designed to gauge the mood of its users by their facial expression and body posture, and to understand and respond to colloquial verbal commands.

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