Delta’s new airport technology shows personalized flight information on a big screen


In a terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, thousands of passengers a week find their way to gates using technology that looks like something out of a futuristic science fiction movie.

Delta Air Lines recently introduced a “Parallel Reality” system that allows travelers to access individual flight information on a shared overhead screen based on a scan of their boarding pass – or their face. The twist is that 100 people can do this at once, all using the same digital screen but only seeing their own personal data.

Unlike a regular TV or video wall, where each pixel would emit the same color of light in each direction, the board sends different colors of light in different directions.

So what was wrong with the old system? The one where people stare up at a giant screen with dozens of rows of flights — or at a tiny screen on their phone?

Greg Forbes, Managing Director Airport Experience at Delta, said the large overhead screens can be misinterpreted, especially at busy airports with multiple daily flights to the same place. And phones can pose a security risk.

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“We’re really concerned about people walking around at full speed and staring at their phones instead of being aware of their surroundings,” he said. So the airline wanted the kind of individual messages delivered via an app, but in the form of a large screen.

“That’s where the solution that we hadn’t even considered came to us,” Forbes said. Delta employees were introduced to the technology more than three years ago, developed by a company called Misapplied Sciences. It then partnered with the start-up and invested in the company.

Parallel Reality is based on display technology that allows multiple people to look at the same board at the same time and see personalized information without a tool like a camera or headset.

“You just look at the displays with your naked eye,” said Albert Ng, the chief executive of Misapplied Sciences.

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In Detroit, an overhead motion sensor that tracks moving objects anonymously tracks passengers after they scan their boarding pass or face to know where to send flight information, Ng said. Travelers must sign up for Delta’s facial recognition technology to use the facial scan.

Delta’s plans for the technology were first announced in January 2020 with plans for a rollout that year, but the pandemic delayed its introduction until late last month.

While the use of facial recognition technology is not required for the signage, Delta, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration, has also added the option of “digital identity technology” at multiple airports, including Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York. LaGuardia. The airline said passengers will eventually be able to use facial recognition at all US hubs.

The feedback on the displays has been “amazing,” Forbes said. On busy days, about 1,500 or 1,600 people use the technology. He said he expects more installations in the future so the airline can make a “robust assessment” of future use.

“If everything continues to be as positive as it has been so far, I would expect it to happen in more airports and more places around the airport,” he said.

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