Here’s how Parallel Reality is helping passengers at Detroit Metro Airport

If you’ve traveled lately at Metro Airport, you might have seen a display that takes you into a parallel universe

You’ll notice it right after you go through security at the McNamara Terminal at Metro Airport. It’s a big-screen offering something called parallel reality to help passengers figure out where to go. If you’ve traveled lately at Metro Airport, you might have seen a display that almost looks like it might take you into a parallel universe. Okay, not quite.

DETROIT – If you’ve traveled lately at Metro Airport, you might have seen a display that almost looks like it might take you into a parallel universe.

Okay, not quite.

It’s a brand new technology to help you get your travel itinerary personalized—no need to scan that big board trying to find your flight amongst the hundreds of others. Delta has customized the big board just for you.

“Ohhh, that’s so cool,” said one passenger. “Oh my God! That is awesome.”

The big arch and information desk just past TSA is getting all kinds of reactions for 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 everybody see my information? And then I realized my sister could only see hers.”

“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.

With each Delta passenger walking through, the board displays only their travel itinerary.

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

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

“I see that there’s ‘hello Virgil,’” Flowers said. “Thank you for flying Delta. Gate 30a. Three-minute walk.”

“The display fundamentally can direct different contents towards each person that looks at it,” said Albert Ng, CEO of Misapplied Sciences, the company that created the technology. “Above us is a motion sensor that detects moving objects as they’re moving around, and when one of these moving objects scans their boarding pass, that’s how the display knows to direct that flight information towards that moving object as they’re walking around.”

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

How it all works is pretty simple.

All you have to do is walk up to the desk, scan your boarding pass, and your boarding information is displayed on the big screen only for you to see. The technology behind it is what makes it all possible.

“It’s in the pixels of the display itself,” said Ng. “Each pixel is capable of controlling the color of light that it projects in many different directions. But right now, I’m only seeing a blank airplane because I didn’t opt-in or scan my boarding pass.”

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

“Nope,” Ng said. “So if the camera can pan back behind my head, you can see that I’m truly not seeing anything.”

“The digital ID technology was first tested at Delta here in Detroit among the employees,” said Delta’s Hussein Berry.

The parallel reality experience has been a few years in the making through a partnership between Delta and Misapplied Sciences. It was just unveiled for public use for Delta travelers on June 28, and Metro Airport is the first airport in the world to use.

“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 the world. Another cool thing to note is that the board will also display in whatever language you prefer as well.


About the Authors:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.