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

Jul 16, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

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.

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 photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$125
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.