Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2020: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2020: Delta to pilot "parallel reality" display at Detroit airport

The new display technology allows many people looking at the same display simultaneously to see different things.

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As part of its efforts to improve the overall travel experience, Delta Airlines is investing in "parallel reality" displays -- a new kind of personalized signage that only shows you information that's relevant to you. Developed by the startup Misapplied Sciences with Delta's backing, the first parallel reality display will go live in the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in mid-2020. 

"Imagine an airport terminal completely personalized for you," Misapplied Sciences CEO Albert Ng said on the keynote stage at CES 2020. "Instead of a list of 100 flights, you see only your own flight information... All of the signs are in your preferred language, arrows point you to your gate... At the gate, you see the exact time you board, and the news that you got upgraded." 

With the opt-in parallel reality display that Misapplied Sciences has developed, anywhere from 10 to thousands of people can look at the same screen simultaneously and see personalized information. There's no need to use special glasses or any kind of augmentation. 

For the beta run in Detroit, close to 100 customers will be able to simultaneously view personalized content on a single digital screen located just past security. To try the screen, a customer scans their boarding pass on the boarding pass scanner and selects the language they want to use. Delta will be using feedback from the opt-in trial to improve the customer experience.  

The display technology, Ng said, is the product of his company's new processor architectures, new computer vision algorithms and new applied manufacturing processes. 

Ahead of the pilot launch in Detroit, Delta previewed the display technology at CES. 

"Delta's responsibility and vision extends far beyond the flight to the entire journey," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in his keynote address. 

Bastian highlighted a number of ways Delta is using technology to improve the customer experience and make travel less stressful. In addition to personalized displays, the company is exploring ways to leverage biometrics for faster boarding, new technologies to keep airline cabins clean and ways to leverage AI to maintain smooth operations through events like storms.


"When we envision what the future of air travel looks like, we have to think big, start small and scale very fast," Bastian said. 

The company is also working on the Fly Delta app to transform it into "your digital travel concierge," Bastian said -- a platform that customers can use to engage with other brands and services throughout their journey. 

Bastian also highlighted ways Delta's adopting new technologies to streamline operations. For instance, it's partnering with Sarcos Robotics to explore use cases for the Guardian XO, Sarcos'  battery-powered, full-body exoskeleton. 

The suit, demonstrated on stage at CES, is designed to help people safely lift heavy objects over a sustained period of time. According to Delta, the suit could help an employee lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly over eight hours without strain or fatigue. It could be used for handling freight at Delta Cargo warehouses, moving maintenance equipment or lifting heavy machinery.