Delta wants you to say goodbye to crowding around the airport departures board, waiting for your flight information to pop up.
The airline on Tuesday unveiled its plan to install a first-of-its-kind display board at Detroit (DTW) airport this summer that will display personalized messages with flight information to each traveler … on the same screen, at the exact same time. Delta unveiled the technology at CES, the massive consumer electronics trade show, in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Lost? We were too. It works like this: You and I are walking through the airport, bound for different flights. You see your up-to-date flight information, directions to your gate, and maybe even directions to the nearest Delta Sky Club. Meanwhile, I see my own flight information and directions on the same screen. You don't see my flight information, and I don't see yours.
The trick is technology called “Parallel Reality,” pioneered by a company called Misapplied Sciences that has partnered with Delta. Their displays use “multi-view” pixels, allowing viewers to see different things on the same screen. Delta says nearly 100 travelers can use the screen at once during their pilot.
During the pilot in Detroit, travelers who want to use the technology will simply have to scan their boarding pass near the screen in Concourse A after security. A Delta spokeswoman said the airline could eventually use facial recognition or other biometrics to make the displays seamless- opening potential concerns for travelers concerned about data privacy.
“This breakthrough technology has to be seen to be believed – it has the potential to make even the busiest airports much easier to navigate, even if you don’t speak the language,” Delta Chief Operating Officer Gil West said in a statement.
Delta is also pressing for other big tech advancements in the coming years. Delta CEO Ed Bastian outlined his vision for turning the Fly Delta smartphone app into a “digital travel concierge,” alerting you to traffic on your route to the airport and offering to call a Lyft earlier. Delta wants to start alerting travelers not just when their flight has begun boarding, but when it's actually their time to board – they call it “virtual queuing.”
Bastian also reaffirmed his commitment to offering free in-flight Wi-Fi, though not on the original timeline he had hoped. After originally promising it would go live sometime in 2019, he conceded Tuesday it may only happen “in the next couple years.”
“I'm confident that we're going to get there,” Bastian said. “Where else do you pay for Wi-Fi these days when you're not on a plane? Nowhere. It should be free.”
Lead photo courtesy of Delta