Category Archives: Travel

Drifting away from a product-based solution … maybe

As an industrial designer, I’m inclined towards a product-based solution … but that’s the great thing about collaboration. I’m open to having my process change and respond to the ideas of other team members, and any individuals who want to add to the travel project.

What if it was simply a new product?

  • A better armrest that splits in the middle, allowing both users to use it without giving up space or comfort.
  • A chair that comfortably reclines without interfering with the passenger behind you. A seat that gently supports your lumbar. A footrest that extends without dramatically increasing the horizontal footprint of your personal comfort pod.
  • A sound system that cancels the noise around the cabin but allows you to speak to your immediate companion.
  • In-flight entertainment that allows you any content (including Internet) at your command.
  • On demand refreshments.
  • A short list of questions that allows the airlines to select your perfect travel companion and cabin placement according to your personal needs.

Think about the resetting of expectations — we obviously live in a culture of entitlement. Can we simply say, “Suck it up, buttercup,” or is there a better solution? How are each of us as individuals responsible for our condition? Is it simply a matter of  being polite? Is it being happier with what me have? We want to empower both passengers and the airlines to take back some of the responsibility on the airways.

Wow, the timeline is pretty short …

Losing control

Last night, our project team came together to discuss our findings of the last 36 hours. What was supposed to be an hour-long reveal became hours of in-depth discussion.

We’ve all heard about passengers feeling anxiety, a loss of power, and a loss of dignity.

On the other side, airline staff only have access to specific information. They are constrained by  security, safety, and organizational factors. When they want to help, they often don’t have the ability.

Both passengers and staff become frustrated, creating a negative feedback loop for all.

To create a user-centered airline experience, we realized that we need to address both sides of this equation. The concept that surfaced:

A sense of control.

From this, discussions turned to shared destinations, transparency, purpose, and agency.

Now, our challenge now is to distill specific actions that can help everyone regain a sense of control.

Joe Airline, I’ll be Pimpin’ my ride!

Typically, when buying a ticket, we fight for an emergency row or a aisle seat near the front.

But what if I told you that your airline of choice could magically seat you next to someone who might be in a position to push your big idea to the next level?  What I’m talking about is the magic of profiling, social networking, and algorithms.

The idea is quite simple.  When setting up your frequent flier account, we are given the option to add a private (or public) profile which tells a bit about who we are.  Then, when choosing a seat on our next flight, the airline can now offer you the additional option of allowing their algorithm to select other passengers on that same flight who you may want to sit next to onboard your flight.  At no point would your information be revealed to others.

Whatcha think?

Updates from the Ground

In my experiences with collaborative design work, the convergence of brainstormed ideas is a sure sign of progress. Here in Palm Springs, the task of distilling a massively productive-yet-diverse brainstorm into a clear direction toward action seems to be moving forward. From the diverse issues presented by Bryan in a previous blog post, the group is beginning to center around a few major issues — a great sign.

These are:

1.  Proxemics: How do we regain a sense of personal space on a plane?

2.  How can we better empower passengers’ control over their experience?  (the typical flight experience tends to force passengers to hand their bags, security and even their hunger and thirst over to the airline)

3.  How can we use passengers’ shared origin and destination to provide convenience, engagement and entertainment?

For questions 1 and 2, there’s an important question surrounding whether we can (or need to) actually solve the problem given security, logistical and political constraints, or whether we can use psychology/design to artificially generate the experience.

For question 3, we’re discussing how we can use the geographical landscape of the destination city as part of the in-flight entertainment interface. The goal is to generate informative and social interactions.

With so many great minds in collusion, only good can come out of this. Other TEDActive participants are constantly stopping by, participating in the discussion — we’re capturing the usable nuggets of freeform ideation. The next group meeting is with a drink near the pool and campfire in the Riviera’s courtyard.  Join us – bring inspiration!  :)