This article was written by Synect CEO Yahav Ran and originally published in the AV Technology Manager Buyer's Guide to Networked Digital Signage. It is republished here courtesy of AV Technology Magazine and has been lightly edited. A free digital copy of the guide can be accessed here.
The millions of people flying every day share one common goal: to get where they are going. To succeed in their journey, passengers need to organize and orient themselves within the airport environment at every step of the way. Visual communications can help—we’ve all experienced getting the information we need from a well-placed sign or friendly kiosk—but the best visual communications solutions aren’t constrained to printed materials or devices.
The best visual communications solutions are a core part of the airport environment.
From the curbside, to check-in, to wayfinding, retail spaces, gates, and beyond, the very best communications tools help airlines connect with passengers at every turn. These solutions offer a consistent, cohesive experience for the entire passenger journey, decreasing stress and anxiety while enhancing passenger experience every step of the way.
How can these visual communications systems be implemented effectively? By treating visual communications tools such as displays and content as part of the building materials. From video walls to totem displays, from video content to dynamic data, these digital media solutions should be integrated into the building architecture and considered just like any other material.
At Synect, we call these digital materials.
The phrase digital materials reminds us that just like carpet or tile or any other building material, these materials shape the airport environment and experience. They are just as important, if not more so, and they are infinitely more flexible, adaptable, and omnipresent.
This is apparent in our work with the Orlando Airport, where Synect is helping define a new vision for visual communications. The project includes a 1,560-foot video wall running behind the check-in and ticketing counters, along with new video walls and digital signage at curbside, self-check-in, and in wayfinding locations throughout the terminal.
The displays and content at each location are part of one connected ecosystem, meaning that the airport can tell a cohesive, consistent story across many displays—and across the different parts of the passenger journey.
Content is a digital material.
Beyond the infrastructure, the software, or even the display canvas, content is the most critical element of digital materials. Content can include video and branded media, games, entertainment, and more. Integration with airport systems means that live data can be displayed across large-format, customizable digital canvases as glance-and-go information for passengers. Critical dynamic data and airport information—like flight information, estimated wait times, wayfinding, and more—is embedded into immersive, branded content that engages passengers from the curbside to the gates.
Digital materials can be aware of airport (or other environment’s) activity, which allows them to display relevant information and content autonomously. But beyond real-time awareness, these ecosystems can predict airport activity in the future and apply lessons learned from past scenarios through integration with systems such Airport Operations Databases (AODB). This opens the way for applying artificial intelligence (AI) into the ecosystem to help reduce reaction times and build a stronger passenger experience with recognition, reasoning, and operational decision-making capabilities that were previously unavailable. Synect’s approach to digital materials at the airport drives products and solutions for every part of the passenger journey, including: parking, curbside, check-in, wayfinding, security, Flight Information Display (FIDS) walls, gates, baggage claim, and more.
These products and solutions are part of one cohesive ecosystem, and they are airport-aware to ensure that the information displayed on them is always up to date and helpful.
Digital Materials for Check-In
The digital materials used at check-in provide an engaging, memorable welcome to the airport and airline, while providing relevant flight information, wait-times, and other details in an easy-to-consume manner. This can be seen at the Orlando International Airport.
Digital Materials for Wayfinding
Digital materials for wayfinding are entirely different, even though they are part of the same system. From helping a passenger find their gate, to integrated Flight Information Display (FIDS) data, to retail and dining options based on travel and wait time, this new wayfinding medium keeps passengers entertained, informed, and happy. These digital materials take the place of traditional signs and signage, with the advantage of being able to adapt to airport activity, such as flight changes, facilities closures, and more.
Digital Materials for the Baggage Claim
Just like any use of digital materials, baggage claim solutions can be implemented into any configuration of digital media displays to fit inside an airport’s unique space.
Digital materials at the baggage claim can inform and entertain passengers. Vibrant but soothing carousel identifiers and messaging eases anxiety immediately. Live airport data, including a progress countdown to baggage arrival, further alleviates passenger anxiety and the stress of an unknown wait. An optional video feed of the baggage claim chute alleviates crowding at the carousel.
Digital Materials for the Entire Passenger Journey
These examples illustrate specific implementations of digital materials, but the beauty of the medium is that the possibilities are truly endless.
Learn more and see digital materials in action at the Airport Planning, Design and Construction Symposium in Denver next month. More info is available here.
Yahav Ran is the founder and CEO of Synect, a specialized agency creating massive-scale digital ecosystems and custom content. Synect’s projects include the Orlando International Airport’s record-breaking video wall and the Microsoft Store’s worldwide video wall network. Clients include the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Indeed, Microsoft, Gensler, and others. Yahav oversees the strategies, tools, processes, and teams to enable over 18,000 feet of video walls daily and revolutionize how millions of people experience brands in the real world. His work has been featured in Airport Improvement Magazine, Design News, Engadget, Future Travel Experience, and PSFK.