From ‘Parallel Reality’ content personalisation, via ‘binge button’ entertainment options onboard, to evolving its Fly Delta app into a digital concierge – Delta outlines new technology advancements

Delta Air Lines has used the world’s largest electronic show to reveal a range of new initiatives, technology innovations and new partnerships. The CES trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, has become a platform for the announcement of new technology developments during its 50 year history, and the US major this year became the first airline to keynote the innovation and technology forum.

The airline’s CEO Ed Bastian was joined by a series of Delta leaders as well as pioneers from various industries to help convey how the airline is disrupting the industry and redefining consumer expectations. Together they showed the world what travel will look like in the future and the steps Delta is taking to bring that vision to life.

“We see technology as a tool to further our mission of connecting people and creating opportunities,” Mr Bastian said. “We’re not chasing shiny objects or tech for the sake of being cool. We are dedicated to solving your travel problems and making your voyages – and your lives – easier.”

The developments from the US major meet consumer needs for better personalisation and work on improving the travel experience and deliver on customer expectations. Among the most interesting is the launch of a PARALLEL REALITY beta experience at Detroit Metropolitan Airport this year, where nearly 100 customers will be able to look at a single screen at the same time and see personalised content tailored to their travel.

The partnership with Misapplied Sciences could represent the first step toward a future where the airport environment itself is tailored to each customer. This new, opt-in technology allows multiple customers to see personalised content tailored to their unique journey on a single digital screen – at the exact same time and in their preferred language. At a glance, the category-defining technology will provide wayfinding and personalised travel information, like directions to your departure gate, or the closest Delta Sky Club.

The airline is also creating a full-scale digital simulation environment for its global operation to bring its reliability to the next level, particularly during bad weather and other challenging travel events. The proprietary AI-driven platform analyses millions of operational data points – from aircraft positions to flight crew restrictions to airport conditions – to create hypothetical outcomes that help Delta’s professionals make critical decisions before, during and after large-scale disruptions, like severe winter weather or a volcanic eruption.

Onboard, Delta is launching dedicated in-flight channels spotlighting films and TV shows that meet the ReFrame Stamp standard  – a mark of distinction for features that include female-identifying people in four of eight key areas of their production, while a ‘binge button’ on the IFE system which will allow passengers to watch entire seasons of their favourite new shows uninterrupted.

It is also partnering with Sarcos Robotics to explore new employee technology fit for a superhero – a mobile and dexterous exoskeleton designed to boost employees’ physical capabilities and bolster their safety. Sarcos, the world’s leader in exoskeleton development, has developed the Sarcos Guardian XO, a battery-powered, full-body exoskeleton designed to boost human performance and endurance while helping to prevent injury.

This Guardian XO robotic suit, designed for employees to wear, does the heavy lifting. By bearing the weight of the suit payload, the exoskeleton may enable an employee to lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly for up to eight hours at a time without strain or fatigue, according to the airline.

Elsewhere, the airline hopes to evolve its Fly Delta app into customers’ digital travel concierge, making travel more relaxing and less stressful by anticipating customer needs, offering convenient services to take the stress out of the day of travel like a ride to the airport and delivering thoughtful notifications, all from within the app to keep customers moving seamlessly on their journey.