Adam Hoffman, CEO of CheckTheQ, presented at APEX TECH in January 2018. Image: Greg Verville

APEX Insight: CheckTheQ is in the process of expanding its “plug-and-play” airport wait time tracking solution to airports in New York, Pennsylvania and California, after it began testing at St. Louis Lambert International Airport last summer.

We’re entering an era of self-driving cars, biometrics and machine learning, but some problems of the past still haven’t been solved. Waiting in a line, or more precisely, not knowing how long you have left to wait in one is among these problems. “In the world we live in now, where knowledge is power, this seems like such a simple piece of knowledge you’d want to quantify,” says Adam Hoffman, founder and CEO of CheckTheQ, a company offering a solution to this very problem. “Just being able to answer that question can improve the experience for travelers and the airport. “

Hoffman wondered why there wasn’t already a solution for tracking airport security wait times in real-time. Spotting a potential gap in the market, he immersed himself in St. Louis, Missouri’s startup community and worked with mentors and business leaders to come up with a workable idea. “When we figured out there was an opportunity, I decided to scrap my career plans and go all in on CheckTheQ full time, he says. “I went out and raised some capital and hired a team and we’ve been full speed ahead ever since.”’

“Every airport, regardless of size, can take advantage of our technology,” – Adam Hoffman, CheckTheQ

Hoffman acknowledges there are other solutions that use high-powered camera tracking technology to follow the movement of individuals through an airport. “The problem is that those cameras are really expensive to install and to replace,” he says. “For the vast majority of airports it doesn’t make sense to invest in a system like that. Every airport, regardless of size, can take advantage of our technology.”

CheckTheQ builds sensors that are about the size of a stack of cards. Each sensor can cover a range as large as a football field, and can be placed anywhere inside an airport so long as it there is access to an electrical outlet and a wireless or wired Internet connection. It’s a solution that Hoffman describes as being “literally plug-and-play.”

The sensors connect to CTQ Ground, the company’s cloud-based analytics platform, which displays real-time data on wait times at various check points to the airport’s staff. This data can also be shared with travelers on an airport’s website, display screens or mobile app via an additional CheckTheQ product known as CTQ Flow. The sensors are complimentary but the company charges an annual subscription fee through a software as a service revenue model.

CheckTheQ says it is also rolling out activity tracking at restrooms, bag drop and concessions, in addition to security checkpoints.

Last summer, CheckTheQ partnered with St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which handles around 14 million passengers per year, to launch a period of beta testing for the product. Hoffman says the airport has been “a valuable partner [enabling CheckTheQ] to refine and improve the technology so that now we have a hyper-accurate tracking solution.” CheckTheQ has since partnered with an airport in Illinois and is now in the process of expanding to airports in other states including New York, Pennsylvania and California.

CheckTheQ also caught the attention of Starburst, an accelerator program for promising startups in the aerospace sector, which has already helped APEX members including Inflight VR and SkyLights. “They were impressed with the work that we are doing and the technology that we developed and said they want to make themselves available to help us connect with other changemakers and industry standard setters,” Hoffman says. In January, Starburst brought Hoffman to APEX TECH in Los Angeles, where he introduced CheckTheQ and its tracking solution to attendees as part of an afternoon session showcasing three startups bringing innovative solutions to the end-to-end passenger experience.

“As we collect more data over time, we can become hyper-accurate with our predictions,” – Adam Hoffman, CheckTheQ

Despite its early success, CheckTheQ isn’t slowing down its pace of innovation. Hoffman says the company is working with St. Louis Lambert airport to integrate with a text-based bot service that can respond to questions such as “How long is the wait time at Checkpoint 2?” or “How long can I expect to wait at Terminal C?” It is also working on a tool to easily share wait time data with the TSA to help it improve and adjust security checkpoint staffing at peak times and to help airlines manage staff at check-in desks. “As we collect more data over time, we can become hyper-accurate with our predictions. That unlocks a whole new set of possibilities not only for airports but for travelers,” says Hoffman.