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Detroit's new personalized flight information board is straight out of a sci-fi novel

July 16, 2022
4 min read
Parallel Reality
Detroit's new personalized flight information board is straight out of a sci-fi novel
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Delta Air Lines passengers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) can now access innovative technology that seems straight out of a sci-fi novel.

The technology — which is appropriately named Parallel Reality — makes it possible for one giant digital screen in the terminal to display personalized travel itinerary details for up to 100 people at a time.

No one sees a big jumble of information, though. Instead, each person looking up at or walking by the screen sees a message addressing them by name, with their mileage program status, flight information and the estimated time it will take them to get to their gate.

“The technology does sound like science fiction,” said Albert Ng, CEO of Misapplied Sciences, the company that created the Parallel Reality product. However, after more than five years in what he described as “stealth mode,” the company worked out a propriety method of getting the pixels of a display board to send different content to each viewer.

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Delta passengers can opt in to the experience by scanning their boarding pass once they are through the security checkpoint in Concourse A of DTW’s McNamara Terminal. Customers enrolled in Delta’s biometric digital identity program need only show their faces to a camera at the kiosk.

Then, motion sensors installed in the terminal ceiling go into action.

Once a customer logs in, they are identified by the motion sensors as a specific moving object tied to a specific customer record. “And then the display knows to direct specific information to that moving object even as that object is moving around,” Ng said. “In this demo, as soon as you walk out of the viewing area of the display, the system forgets everything, and all of the data is purged.”

Passengers who don't opt in to the Parallel Reality flight information display experience will see generic content and branded Delta messaging on the digital screen, which is 21 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet.

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Delta first announced its partnership with Misapplied Sciences for the Parallel Reality flight information board back in 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES. The launch of a beta display board experience at DTW was planned for that summer. Then, COVID-19 and the pandemic delayed the rollout by two years.

In operation since late June, the new high-tech, personalized FID is already generating positive feedback from passengers who think it's a useful tool, Greg Forbes, Delta Air Lines’ managing director of airport experience, says. However, he does not see the Parallel Reality FID replacing all existing, general-purpose, flight display boards anytime soon.

“But we think in certain instances, where people are on the move, that they would be better served by being able to cut to the chase, see their information and have this convenience," he said.

Forbes told TPG that Delta intends to leave the Parallel Reality FID in place “as long as it’s providing value” and that the carrier has a growing list of other spots in the airport where this technology could be beneficial.

“Specifically, we are looking at applications in the Delta Sky Club to make visits more personalized and in security checkpoints where mobile device use is not allowed,” Forbes said. “Even in its current form, I can think of other airports that would benefit from installing ‘super FIDs’ like we've put in Detroit.”

Of course, airports are not the only places where personalized Parallel Reality technology could be useful.

“While we are really excited to launch this in the airport scenario, the airport is just the start,” Ng said. “Parallel Reality has the ability to provide more seamless, magical, intuitive experiences for any out-of-home venue, such as shopping malls, stadiums, theme parks, hotels and even casinos.”

Featured image by Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
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  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees