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 …
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.
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.
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.
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!
Day 1 is done.
It proved to be the day we took one question and broke it apart into many questions (see below). In the process the collective conversation touched upon a myriad of topics (also see below).
To close our session, we self-identified the newly formed question and/or theme each of us is most passionate about further exploring. Moving forward we will engage the broader TED community to help identify the opportunities and generate ideas around each of our question of interest.
The highlight of the day has to be when a team member shouted out an age old question. It’s one I’ve personally struggled with my entire life. Solve this and we save the world.
Who should give up the armrest first?
How can we integrate the actual geographic journey to keep the passenger grounded?
How to help passengers cocoon?
How can we unlock the creative potential of flight attendants?
How do we learn and understand what changes are being made based on our feedback?
How can passengers have a chance to improve our own end-to-end experience?
How can we help passengers help themselves to a better airline experience?
What should an airline culture be like?
Can travel become more DIY or participatory?
How can we make the system more flexible?
Can we put all the families on one plane?
How can we control peak times?
How can we help airlines express a culture of respect through staff?
How do we change the entrance to make a feeling of welcome?
How can we change the jet way experience?
How might lighting impact the flying experience?
Can multiple experiences be provided and would that engage differently?
Could there be program specific spaces?
Can we vertically stagger seating?
How do we put the talkers in a certain seating on the plane?
Could we create a connect group on facebook before journey or is this a security risk?
How might environmental factors impact anxiety?
How can we make it easier to enjoy a meal?
How can we help people feel comfortable sitting so close to a stranger?
How might social spaces on a plane work?
How can we make it a more active flight?
How can we add confidence in pre-security to enable freedom on a plane?
How could we create the passenger experience while maintaining realities of security and policy?
How can we educate on the geographical journey so the passengers feel more comfortable?
What are the on plane improvements that will make the passengers feel more empowered?
How do you measure change in action?
How do you maintain control?
How can an airline become a part of the social graph?
What is the true definition of loyalty? And how do you reward it?
How much do you want the airlines to know about you?
What is the right system of rewards?
What can an airline do before the flight to make it better?
How do we manage different anthropometrics?
How do we manage disembarking?
Service vs. security tension
Sense of journey vs. trip
Order & discovery
Management being manic vs depressive
TSA – friend or foe?
Freedom on flight
Person and bag = 1 unit
Passenger to passenger
Like most TEDsters, I’ve always been doing. Creating, advising, writing, consulting, researching, exploring, managing, studying, teaching, designing, performing, meditating, contemplating, and the list goes on. This lifestyle beckons two absolute realities. One, time management efforts to combat the stress of a full plate, and two, a significant amount of travel. From business trips, conference presentations, research fellowships, pilgrimages and vacations, I’ve seen my fair share of the inside of a plane.
Multiple Truths in M.C. Escher’s “Relativity”
When invited to participate in TEDActive’s Travel Project (an intimidating honour), I started to tackle the human-centered flight experience in my own research style. My first thought was to take this large problem and boil it down to its essentials. In my design work, I have developed a brainstorm-generator surrounding the concept of “multiple truths”. The idea aligns with the contemporary zeitgeist; whether you call it pluralism, post-modernism, or even the culture of remix, our minds have become a flowchart expanding in all directions. As the list grew, it began to appear as a clear opportunity to inspire collaboration in preparation for the upcoming conference. So here goes!
The “Multiple Truths” of TRAVEL: An Airline Flight is…
- A place to focus
- A perpetual transition
- A time-sensitive context
- An intimidating journey
- A stressful necessity
- A class separation
- A social medium
- An exciting adventure
- A place for reflection
- A constricted discomfort
- A trusted service
- A metaphor for success
- A dream come true
- A safety hazard
- A step toward/away from love
- A confrontation with mortality
Fellow travelers… please add to the list !