What Delta’s New ‘Parallel Reality’ Departures Board Is Really Like

One hundred people at a time can see personalized flight information – addressed to them – on the same flight information board. That’s Delta’s first ‘parallel reality’ monitor in Detroit in partnership with Misapplied Sciences, first teased at the Computer Electronics Show in 2020 but with rollout delayed to this past week by the pandemic.

The Parallel Reality displays work because every pixel in the display can simultaneously project millions of light rays in different directions. As travelers scan their boarding passes to opt in to the experience (with the potential for mobile tracking and similar technologies following later), the system’s sensors will track them, even as they walk around the display, and show the right information for their eyes only.

Here’s what it actually looks like in practice.

@jlgolson The tech is INSANE, we need this everywhere @delta! #delta #misappliedsciences #deltaairlines #airport #billboard #dtw #detroit #travel #travelhacks #magic #magictrick ♬ original sound – PRNDL by Jordan Golson

I’m not sure that this accomplishes very much but it is certainly super cool, and is proof of concept for the company that developed it. Delta, for its part, says the pilot effort makes passengers ‘feel seen and valued.’

It seems to me the board displays the information that I… get on the mobile app alraedy. Do you find this useful, and does it make you feel valued?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. No, it seems gimmicky at least in its current state. I guess if the future vision is that you could pre-opt in beforehand and then these screens were throughout the airport and could then send you targeted messages perhaps it could be valuable (and scary)

  2. I like the current screens. You can see the flight and gate. That’s all you need.

    Maybe DL should invest in people who know the rules and treat DMs the way they used to rather than this crap.

  3. Sounds like we are not too far away from the world shown in the movie Minority Report- I’m sure they will be able to use facial recognition to display personalized ads at some point whether we want it or not. Also, I can’t say I’m too thrilled in trusting a company with the name “misapplied science”…the warning label is in the name.
    For the most part, I’m kidding, but….

  4. You know what would make me ‘feel seen and valued.’? If Delta could actually get me to where I need to on time. Had a trip last week MCO to MGM, The flight from ATL to MGM was cancelled. They put me on ATL to BHM, that flight was delayed by 5 hours. I finally managed to get on a flight from ATL to CSG and had to drive an hour and a half to my destination arriving only 5 hours later than scheduled. This isn’t just Delta btw – try flying American through DFW…

  5. Instead of investing to make their SkyClubs up to standard and not some faux-wood paneling and marble floor decor that appeals to guys who travel to Asia to buy women, Delta invests in bullshit like this at DTW.

  6. Screw this nonsense. How about Delta focus on connecting pilots and crew to planes as well as passengers and their luggage to their destination…you know, the really important stuff.

  7. Occasional flyers won’t know how to activate the service. Frequent flyers, as was noted, will have already checked their Delta app five times . . . or simply have read the text alerts for updates. I can see it being further “integrated” with targeted ads.

  8. The art of illusion. Just focus on the shiny object. You won’t see the dissary in the skies.

  9. I read that they said it’s bc it keeps people from watching their cell phones while they walk. I have news for them. Ppl aren’t watching their phones to figure out which gate to go to. Duh

  10. I have seen a more detailed description and use of this technology. As the software progresses in development, the Delta traveler will see these screens in multiple locations on the journey to the gate. Specific information to the traveler will be shown…delays, gate change, seat location reminder, boarding sequence, etc. Now, if the company can get the supply chain and ATC issues resolved…!!

  11. I guess I’m the only one who sees this as easier than looking at an app. In a true AI environment, the screens know who you are and do not require any input from the user to display info. So this is a few steps prior to that. But we are getting there.

  12. @Johnb I don’t see how this new screen gives you more info than a board that has all the gates listed. It says his status with Delta. He knows that. It gives the gate. And tells you what direction to go, left or right. What stupo doesn’t know how to figure out the direction? This is the most ludicrous way to spend money.

  13. I find it profoundly creepy and dystopian, reminiscent of the holographic ads in that Tom Cruise movie (Minority Report?) that walk alongside you and try to engage you in conversation. It’s sort of cool that the tech exists to do this, but do most people really trust new tech not to be buggy and full of security holes? I sure don’t. How do I know WHO ELSE is seeing my “special” customized display?

  14. What’s to stop creeps standing behind girls, just beyond the reach of the screen’s camera but still able to see all their details due to the angle?

    Do tech companies never consider how awful people can be when they design these things?

  15. There is no upside to this. It seems like it would open your private travel information up to anyone standing there which could lead to all sorts of weird problems with identity theft. I think Delta could use that IT resource in a better way. It’s not even all that cutting edge compared to passport control, cruise ships, and other facial recognization standards these days.

  16. I agree with many of the comments. This is something shiney to distract from the many issues travellers face. Maybe DL should concentrate on things that make the overall travel experience better.

  17. Why would I want to fiddle with an app? I’d rather watch something on my phone with notifications off and glance at the board periodically than using an app!

  18. Obviously it’s a gimmick in its current state, but the technology could be developed further to the point where it was really useful.

    Imagine, for instance, that you’re rushing to make a connection in an unfamiliar airport. If the signs in the airport can recognize you, they could guide you down the quickest route to your gate. And information on your ETA could be forwarded to the gate agents so they would know you’re en route.

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