Landing or taking a flight from the airport of a brand new city or a foreign country can be daunting, especially for the elderly or those battling a time crunch. Finding out the right gate for the nearest entry or finding the exit where someone is going to pick you up can be a task. Those back-to-back calls trying to describe where you are standing can be tedious.
Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport has a solution to this problem. Gone are the days of understanding a 2D map; KIA is going a step ahead - with a terminal in the metaverse.
You can navigate your avatar throughout Terminal 2 and explore various spaces, from the airline check-in counters, seating areas to the security check.
You won't be the only one at Metaport though. If you see other avatars running around, they are real-time people navigating the terminal just like you.
As an avatar, you can even interact with them, call them and text them. If you have a friend in the Metaport, you can teleport to their location easily in case you lose sight of them.
Review: All this sounds great. But what is it really like? Well, we experienced the Metaport firsthand and this is what we found -
The good: Overall, the navigation through Metaport is quite smooth and high quality, like a video game.
The Metaport has a very real look, exactly like those photos from Terminal 2.
Users can walk around the counters labelled A to D or E and check out where they are located.
One of the biggest pluses of Metaport is to help first-timers at an airport understand how the security check works, where the trays are, etc.
One can also spot the restrooms at the Metaport, knowledge of which will be useful to the elderly.
Metaport also allows users to interact with each other in real time. One day, it can be useful in connecting with other passengers who might be taking the same flight as you.
The interaction part is quite interesting. For example, if you see someone sitting in the seating area, you can sit next to them and start a conversation, or you can tap on any random user's avatar and text them or even give them an audio call.
You can also enter group chats. I could hear other users talking while roaming around the Metaport.
The not-so-good: The interface is a bit difficult to use, especially on phone. Sometimes, a dialog box for interaction opens up out of frame.
The toolbar on the left side of the screen is also difficult to understand and there seems to be no way to exit the Metaport.
When you log in, you will be asked to give access to your camera and microphone. This is not good news for those concerned about privacy as your face and audio will be seen and heard by random strangers.
While you can toggle on and off the camera and microphone use on Metaport, the uneasy interface on phone makes it troublesome. I had my camera switched on by accident.
All the boarding gates aren't available right now to explore. They may be developed in a later phase.
Check-in counters aren't marked with any specific airlines. So my hopes of finding a particular counter, like that of Air India, were dashed.
Services like web check-in or getting a boarding pass through the Metaport are not available. These services will surely make Metaport more effective and interesting.
When it comes to checking the nearest entry gate, the Metaport doesn't help since avatars can't go outside the airport to check the nearest entry gate.
You are unlikely to find a user who is a fellow passenger since, at the moment, most would be touring the Metaverse out of curiosity.
One of the issues I faced was that the audio call to another user wasn't working. No one could hear the other.
There are no defined shops that you can explore or plan to visit or restaurants that you can bookmark.
Bengaluru airport's Metaport is the first of its kind in the world. So, it is likely that future versions of it will come more equipped.
You can take a virtual tour of various seating areas on a Qatar Airways flight, from Business class suites to economy seats. It is useful for those wanting to check the space available for various reasons.
Do you want to visit the Bengaluru airport in the Metaverse?