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Austin's airport uses WiFi to gauge how long you'll wait in security lines

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If you're a frequent flyer, you've probably panicked after realizing that a long security line could make you miss your flight. You might not have reason to worry at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, though, since the travel hub is now taking advantage of Boingo's WiFi networks to estimate security line wait times. The system works by detecting passengers' WiFi-equipped devices as they swing by security checkpoints, creating a catalog of interval data. With a few months of information, Boingo can almost always predict how long you'll be stuck in the queue -- yes, even during the holiday rush. Austin's approach doesn't require that you sign into Boingo (it's just checking for basic hardware identifiers), and Bluetooth beacons supplement the coverage.

Don't expect see this everywhere, at least not for a while. The underlying technology is only in testing at three airports, and Austin's is the first to actually show the predictions. It also doesn't provide data in real time, so an unruly passenger could throw everything off. The WiFi data could be useful for much more than security if it proves a success, however. Boingo tells ITWorld that the data could help airlines tell you when to leave for the airport, locate the facility's wheelchairs and even tell you when there's a line for the washroom. While this won't help you catch a break if you're really, truly late, it may help you relax when there's plenty of time to spare.

[Image credit: Dion Hinchcliffe, Flickr]

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