Experience The Future of Travel with San Francisco International Airport’s Flight Deck

Jan 24, 2014 by in Experience Design, Kinect, Multi-touch, News, Portfolio, Projection, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen, Travel

The assignment was, well, not so simple. Design and build a fully immersive, best in class, innovative future travel experience for passengers bustling through one of the busiest and fastest growing airports in the country — San Francisco International. The Flight Deck will serve as the gateway experience to the newly renovated Terminal 3, Boarding Area E (or Terminal 3E as it’s known as).

When the Emerging Experiences team was contracted by Hensel-Phelps, one of the largest general contractors and construction managers in the United States, to create this experience we could not have been more excited. For a multi-disciplinary team like us, built of experience designers, creatives, techies, and passionate people that love to collaborate and deliver unexpected, delightful experiences, this project screamed open canvas. Our team is built for these challenging, yet experimental and fun engagements. And the fruits of the tight collaboration between tech and creative shine bright. Literally. Through a 20,000 lumen projector onto oversized panels of glass displaying real-time flight data.

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So just what is Flight Deck? The SFO Flight Deck is composed of three distinct but connected digital experiences — an interactive and real time large scale projection (you can’t miss it), six multi-touch kiosks that are rich with beautiful content, and a mobile takeaway component for those on the go. The entire experience resides in Terminal 3, but the projected visualization serves as a beacon calling all SFO guests to contribute to the global SFO travel story. Content in all three experiences encompasses the entire airport and extends its reach into the city of San Francisco and global destinations.

In order to serve the wide gamut of travel guests, the team operated under the following experience pillars at all times. If an idea did not fit under two or more of these pillars, it hit the floor.

1. Quick and meaningful interactions should maintain quality and depth.
2. Playful collaborations should be maintained throughout the experience.
3. Your personal narrative is part of the SFO story.

Why? As mentioned earlier, the assignment was not so simple. Today’s travelers are in a rush. How and why do we make busy passengers take the time to stop and engage? Inspired by the golden age of travel, when it was considered a magical thing and an experience to do so, we wanted to bring back the joy of the travel experience.

SFO is the just the airport to foster that joy. Featuring an on-site museum with collections that could rival most of the best metropolitan museums we’ve ever visited, we were allowed to dig in to the archives of hundreds of photos of the museum’s aviation collection. And we bring a lot of these golden moments to guests in Flight Deck, hoping they take the time to smile and remember the transformative and magical experiences that travel can bring.

Grand Opening

Terminal 3E is scheduled to open for passengers on January 28, but folks were able to get a sneak peek at the T3E Community Day on Saturday, January 25th. The Flight Deck was a huge hit for folks of all ages, some of which said they plan on coming a bit early on their next flight out of SFO just so they could explore it more. Check out our updates from the event on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to vote for your favorite feature in Terminal 3 here (guess what we voted for?).

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