San Diego International Airport

USD Alums Behind Co. Being Tested at San Diego Airport's ‘Innovation Lab'

TrayMask is among six companies offering COVID-related safety concepts being currently tested out at the Airport Innovation Lab

NBC Universal, Inc.

A couple of University of San Diego alums have launched a company focused on making airplane tray tables a bit more sanitary in these pandemic times -- and the company's concept is now being tested at the San Diego International Airport.

The company is called TrayMask. The product is a recyclable cover that can be placed on a passenger’s seatback tray table.

It’s one of six concepts currently being tested at the Airport Innovation Lab, the San Diego International Airport's ongoing accelarator program that seeks companies with solutions to help enhance the passenger experience or improve efficiency at the airport.

For this round of innovation, the lab is looking at six companies -- TrayMask being among them -- that have created concepts aimed at improving traveler protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID forced airports around the world to re-evaluate health and safety protocols to mitigate spreading the virus,” said Rick Belliotti, airport director of Customer Experience & Innovation, said last month. “We recruited companies that offer viable solutions to reducing passenger contact with high-touch points and effectively managing social distancing. This is an exceptional batch of innovators and we are already extremely impressed with their ideas that have the potential to shape the future airport customer experience.”

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, TrayMask co-founder Ben Erickson traveled a lot, working as a concert tour manager.

He saw a need for the product he helped create.

“This product started, I was just thinking, ‘What is it going to be like when we travel again? What are some of the things that are frankly a little bit disgusting when you’re on a plane?,’” Erickson told NBC 7.

“Whether that is things in the bathroom or the seat buckle. And the tray table was something that, when we really looked into it, it was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize that this is the second dirtiest place on the plane,’” he added.

Erickson said the uses his tray table on an airplane all the time for his personal items like his laptop. He also puts his food on it. With his TrayMask product, there’s now a clean surface for his stuff.

The Airport Innovation Lab is testing the six concepts in this round over 16 weeks. After the tests, all six ideas will be evaluated. If they get a high enough score, they’ll be offered a contract to bring their concept to the San Diego International Airport.

This is the fifth group to participate in the program.

The companies and their concepts for this round are:

  • Ariadne Maps, which will test and develop software and hardware for
    indoor crowd analytics to better understand the movement of passengers in the terminal environment. They will also develop and test a dashboard that may monitor the numbers of unique visitors, the length of their average visit, hourly occupancy of select areas and other metrics.
  • Art of Context, which will test newly developed universal touch-less device technology that provides an alternative to touchscreens in existing kiosks and interactive digital signs. Alternatives include voice control or remote control via mobile devices at airport kiosks.
  • Honeywell, which will evaluate the value of deeper video analytics
    and the effects of positive/negative real-time feedback in the areas of social distancing, mask detection and possibly contact tracing.
  • Intelligent Track Systems A/S, a lightweight trolley fitted with a
    computer tablet that scans passenger-boarding passes.
  • TrayMask, a recyclable sanitary cover for an airplane seatback
    tray table.
  • ZeroWaste/Banqloop, a smart waste bin enabled with sorting, robotics, grinding and packaging of raw sorted materials.
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