North Texas Daily

UNT Students recognized for developing concept for airport app

UNT Students recognized for developing concept for airport app

Left to Right: Hong Yun Yong, Michael Hafner, professor Steve Joiner, Austin Stromberg and David Looney. Courtesy | Paeros App Development Team

UNT Students recognized for developing concept for airport app
June 15
08:41 2016

Adalberto Toledo | Senior Staff Writer


In today’s world, flying can be an excruciatingly frustrating process. If a passenger arrives at the airport late, they could get caught in the TSA line and likely miss their flight completely.

A group of UNT students has aimed to solve these woes.

The students, Hong Yun Yong, Michael Hafner, Austin Stromberg and David Looney, developed the concept for a mobile application for the average traveler called “Paeros,” which their faculty advisor Steve Joiner said comes at an opportune time.

FINAL_Peroes Flyer

Courtesy | Paeros team

“Having this app is great for the customer,” Joiner said. “A lot of airports are already doing this, but the main difference is this hopes to involve every airport in the world. With technology taking over everything, it’s perfect timing for this kind of idea.”

The Paeros concept debuted at the American Association of Airport Executives May conference in Houston and won first place in the student research contest.

Looney, the AAAE’s UNT chapter president, said Paeros would pull data from airports nationwide in one app, even though many airports in the world are already trying to implement a similar concept.

Through the usage of iBeacons, a technology that can give a specific indoor location, passengers can give the airline their location to let them know they’re running to the gate, or if there is an emergency. It also has a “see something, say something” function built in to address safety in airports.

Courtesy | Paeros team

Courtesy | Paeros team

For Looney, the app is a way for him to channel his love for aviation.

“Now, you have to get the app for the particular airport you’re at,” Looney said. “I’ve been hopelessly in love with aviation all my life, and I’ve always wanted to be in aviation. This seemed like the perfect thing to work on for the conference.”

Originally Hafner’s idea, the app went through three different hands to eventually materialize into its current concept. Hong was the “numbers guy,” figuring out how much the app would cost and how much it would increase an airport’s revenue. Hafner was the one behind the screenshots and the look of the app. Stromberg handled questions about the technology fueling, and Looney retained his leadership role.

“I was sort of the air traffic controller there,” Looney said. “I lassoed people in and gave them sort of the general spiel and sent them to figure out more about the cost, the user interface, etc.”

For Looney, the experience was a test not only of his aviation knowledge, but how to convince people to pay attention to what the group had to say.

Courtesy | Paeros team

Courtesy | Paeros team

“It ended up being like a science fair, and the judges came and we had to do it in a more formal way,” Looney said. “We just engaged with people walking around. It was as much a test of salesmanship as it was a test of our idea.”

Hafner said the original plan was to propose runway expansions for Addison airport and present it to the Addison airport managers.

But Hafner felt the initial direction wasn’t quite right.

“I was ecstatic to be in a team with these guys, but the topic just wasn’t there,” Hafner said. “It didn’t appeal to the younger audience, and the generation I was hoping for.”

After Hafner spoke with his father, who works for Southwest Airlines, it was made clear to him that what airlines are looking for is to appeal to the younger audiences.

“I thought, ‘What better way to do that than make a mobile application for your phone, something the younger generation is trained in?’” Hafner said.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 3.11.52 PM

Courtesy | Paeros team

In the beginning, the concept was mainly focused on safety.

“The idea was just create better situational awareness for airport managers – to let them know exactly what’s going on in their airport at a moment’s notice,” Hafner said. “So then we realized that there’s some problems with TSA security times and minor things within the airport, and it helped me mitigate the concerns with the app and develop more features.”

The team’s next step is to take Paeros off the drawing board and a testing and development phase. They are currently attempting to receive funding and get more formally noticed by airport executives.

Looney said they are currently attempting to patent certain aspects of the app and start further developing it, hoping to get something up by next year.  Joiner said he’s proud of the team and sees the app in good hands.

“It was the first time we competed outside of UNT,” Joiner said. “The thing about all this is that the millennials are going to fill administrative positions at airports soon. This app shows great vision, and I think it’s going to be great for the traveling public.”

Featured Image: Hong Yun Yong, Michael Hafner, Steve Joiner (professor), Austin Stromberg and David Looney. Courtesy | Paeros team

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