New technology at Detroit Metro Airport aims to speed up the travel process

DETROIT – If you’ve been around Metro Airport lately, you might have seen a display that almost looks like it’s taking you to a parallel universe.

OK, not quite.

It’s brand new technology to help you personalize your travel itinerary – you don’t need to scan that big board to find your flight among hundreds of others. Delta customized the large board especially for you.

“Ohhh, that’s so cool,” said one passenger. “Oh my goodness! That’s fantastic.”

The large arch and information desk just behind TSA elicits all sorts of reactions from passengers traveling through Metro Airport.

Passengers like the Aadhi family had never seen it before and wondered what it was.

“I was kind of surprised,” said passenger Harshita Aadhi. “I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for because they didn’t tell us what we were looking for and when I saw my name I thought can anyone see my information? And then I realized my sister could only see hers.”

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“My first name is up there, and it says what medallion status I have, which gate, how many minutes I have to walk there,” said passenger Sangeetha Aeisekaran.

As each Delta passenger passes through, the panel only displays their itinerary.

“I see there’s nothing on the screen,” said passenger Virgil Flowers.

“But what do you see for yourself,” said a Delta information agent.

“I see it says ‘Hello Virgil,'” Flowers said. “Thank you for flying with Delta. Gate 30a. Three minutes walk.”

“The display can fundamentally focus different content on each person looking at it,” said Albert Ng, CEO of Misapplied Sciences, the company that developed the technology. “There’s a motion sensor above us that detects moving objects as they move, and when one of those moving objects scans their boarding pass, the display knows to relay that flight information to that moving object as they walk around.”

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The display can show personalized flight information for up to 100 travelers at the same time.

How it all works is pretty simple.

All you have to do is go to the counter, scan your boarding pass and your boarding information will be displayed on the big screen just for you. The technology behind it makes it possible.

“It’s in the pixels of the display itself,” Ng said. “Each pixel is able to control the color of the light that it projects in many different directions. But right now I only see an empty plane because I didn’t register or scan my boarding pass.”

“You don’t see anything on the screen?”

“No,” said Ng. “So if the camera can pan behind my head, you can see that I’m really not seeing anything.”

“Digital ID technology was first tested at Delta here in Detroit among employees,” said Hussein Berry of Delta.

The parallel reality experience was developed through a partnership between Delta and Misapplied Sciences over a number of years. It only opened for public use for Delta travelers on June 28, and Metro Airport is the first airport in the world to be used.

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“Well, it’s helpful,” Flowers said. “Just because I’m thinking where do I go from here? So absolutely, it’s definitely helpful.”

The goal is to eventually spread this technology to other airports across the country and around the world. Another cool thing is that the board is also displayed in your preferred language.

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