You’ve just gotten to the airport, you’re running late, and you need to know your gate number ASAP. But the departures board is being incredibly slow, and it’s taking what feels like eternity for your specific flight information to shuffle back around again on the display.
Most passengers can probably relate to the foot-tapping impatience that comes when you’re stuck in front of a screen, waiting to find out how long your flight’s been delayed or what gate number to sprint to – especially in this season of travel chaos in Europe.
But now – at least in the United States – getting personalised flight information from an airport screen is just a quick glance away, with Delta Air Lines’ futuristic new “Parallel Reality” flight information board.
Launched in partnership with Misapplied Sciences, a start-up based in California, it can display personalised information to 100 people, on a single screen, at the same time.
It is now available to Delta passengers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Each traveller who looks at this high-tech screen is shown completely different information, customised to their journey.
The screen greets a passenger by name and shows them their flight departure time, gate number, and even how long it will take to get there and which direction to walk.
How does it work?
After going through security, Delta flyers who want to opt in to the experience can head to the Parallel Reality display kiosk near the airport’s Delta Sky Club.
They’ll have to either scan their boarding pass or use facial recognition at the kiosk if they’re enrolled in Delta’s digital ID programme.
After that, each customer will be able to see flight information tailored to their unique trip as they walk past the Parallel Reality display board.
“This experience will always be opt-in, and customer information is not stored,” says Delta.
What’s the technology behind this?
According to Misapplied Sciences, Parallel Reality displays are enabled by special pixels that enable the simultaneous projection of different things to different people.
Misapplied Sciences says that unlike a conventional pixel, which projects only a single colour at one moment, its Parallel Reality pixels can simultaneously project “millions of controllable rays of different colours and brightness”.
Each ray can then be software-directed to a specific person, it adds.
In the airport itself, the personalised experience is enabled through a system of motion cameras and sensors.
"A relationship is created between your identity and your position, so that the motion camera follows your shape," Greg Forbes, Delta's managing director of airport experience, told Insider.
"That's what tells the display which direction to aim your information. As you move through the viewing space, your location is tracked, and your message follows you".
The technology only works in a viewing area in front of the screen, so as soon as a passenger leaves the area, their information is deleted, Forbes added.
The screen will only work for those who actively choose to take part in the experience, Albert Ng, CEO of Misapplied Sciences, told Insider.
"We are not ambiently detecting who you are as you're walking through the airport," he said.
A spokesperson for Delta told Euronews Next there were no plans to roll out the technology in Europe at this point, but "Delta will gladly consider European airports as possible future installation sites if there is a strong customer appetite for it".
Unfortunately for those of us on this side of the Atlantic, travel chaos seems likely to continue throughout the summer. But if you happen to be ditching the continent for a holiday in Detroit, here’s hoping this might make for a slightly smoother travel experience.
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