I witnessed magic at the Delta Airline booth at CES.
The Parallel Reality board is a digital display that defies logic showing different viewers different information while everyone is looking AT THE SAME SCREEN AT THE SAME TIME. No app, headset, or anything else needed.
The initial plan is to use the displays from Misapplied Sciences in airports to give customized boarding, flight, or baggage information for up to 100 people simultaneously.
At CES on Monday, I was given a simplified boarding pass on a piece of paper for a flight to Mexico City. After I scanned my pass, I looked up at a giant digital board that welcomed me, personally with, “Welcome to Mexico City, Sasha! Pick up your luggage at Baggage Carousel 9.” It even displayed this information in Spanish. No matter where I stood I saw my personal message. My fellow passenger Mark saw his name and information on the same screen after scanning his own boarding pass. I could not see his information unless I stood right behind him.
For now this works only after you’ve scanned your boarding pass, but it could work with a facial recognition system in the future to bring up any associated flight information. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. It doesn’t currently use facial recognition to display your info. According to Fast Company, once you scan your pass, the tech’s camera recognizes you as a “blob” that can be tracked as you pass by the original board and others in the airport.
To quote one of my Twitter mentions, “How is this possible???”
I’m still wrapping my head around it after experiencing it twice. But from what I’ve learned, the specially designed display has something called “multi-view pixels.” That means each pixel sends out different light colors in different directions. So even if you and I are looking at the same pixel we’re seeing different colors that make up different messages for each of us. Software with loaded information from the scanned boarding pass makes sure the information is targeted at me with a Mexico City ticket for Sasha. It all feels very Minority Report.
Here’s a display of 12 mirrors that show different images projected from the same screen to various people at the same time. The Parallel Reality board is behind the photographer:
GeekWire has a handy graphic showing the difference between a regular pixel and one of the Misapplied Sciences pixels used for the Parallel Reality experience.
The below video shows how Delta envisions this working in a crowded airport environment. Eventually up to a thousand people could know where their gate is or how delayed their flight is all at once while looking at the same board. Everyone won’t be walking into the airport at the exact same time, but after they scan in, the board can display a thousand different screens. Obviously this Delta video is staged so things may be a bit more chaotic in real life. For example, it’s unclear if you’ll have to wait in line to scan your boarding pass in the first place.
Later this year, the first public Parallel Reality arrivals board will be unveiled at the Detroit Metro Airport and will work for up to 100 people at a time. Again, not all 100 people will be entering the airport and looking at the board at the exact same moment, but you could be checking your flight info with 10 others around you. Delta will only have one board at the Detroit airport to start.
It’ll be an opt-in option for Delta travelers in Detroit. After security, you can scan either your paper boarding pass or mobile pass from the Delta app and select a language. It’ll be an extra step to experience the personalized screens.
People may just miss their flights because they’ll be distracted in the terminal as they mess with the personalized boards.