Following a preview at CES in 2020, today Delta launches a personalized flight monitor, its latest tool to make airport journeys smoother. The initial deployment is at Detroit’s DTW airport in the McNamara Terminal, and we were among the first to experience this glimpse into the future. For many travelers, regardless of airline apps and alerts, a peek at the flight information display is still comforting. With frequent crowding around screens, frustration can set in—as such, Delta teamed up with Misapplied Sciences for a new way of looking at your flight information: Parallel Reality.
Parallel Reality utilizes a kiosk, billboard and facial recognition (if one opts in) or a scan of a printed or digital boarding pass to display one person’s specific flight information. What’s really remarkable is that the person standing beside you will only sees theirs—yours is not visible to them. The person on the other side of you, the people in front, behind and across the terminal will only see their own information. The screens can show up to 100 passengers’ personalized information at a time.
We like to think of this as something akin to a lenticular postcard—changing the angle shows you something different. Of course it’s a bit more complicated than a lenticular postcard, but the idea is similar. Each LED pixel can simultaneously display millions of different light rays. Once you’ve opted in, a very precise sensor tracks you and sends your unique light rays your way. Another person literally needs to be hugging you with their head right next to yours to see the same image.
Much like nearly every large-scale video display, it’s comprised of “screens” and each display can be custom designed using any arrangement of those screens, creating the appropriate signage needed in that location at the right scale. Each screen has its own processors, and swapping out a display if needed makes maintenance easy. Misapplied Sciences has been working on this proprietary LED and processor technology for over five years, and this is its first public installation.
Greg Forbes (Managing Director of Airport Experience at Delta) says the new displays solve an old design problem, “The challenge of the flight information display, which has been around for absolutely decades, is a problem—for example, if you think about multi-languages. We tried to find ways where if you scan your boarding pass, it’ll highlight your information for a moment, things like that. But I think we hit the design limits of that form and now this is the next stage.”
This new display system is for every kind of traveler. “I think everyone has that moment of dread,” he says. Those times where one thinks, “Maybe I got it wrong or I didn’t catch a gate change or something like that. You look 100 times to check, right? If we can give that moment of reinsurance, all the better.”
Albert Ng (co-founder and CEO of Misapplied Sciences) concurs, and is thrilled to be offering an easier way to move through airports for all travelers—not just tech-savvy frequent flyers. “It’s personally gratifying seeing families with kids and elderly folks appreciating this technology because there are lot of other technologies that are being developed, but they’re meant more for technophiles. This is a technology that’s meant for everyday people in everyday environments, which makes us excited.”
Hero image courtesy of Delta