A designer’s travails into the not-so-distant future
“Knowledge can take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
I pondered whether my imagination may be able to take me to a not-too-distant future world and provide an incredible trip experience. Here’s a peek into the dreamy-eyed designer that I am as I picture my solo vacation to Italy in five years.
Scene 1: A meaningful apology: I have reached the Bombay airport in a hyperloop. There are a lot of people who’ve checked into the economy class—it looks full. I walk towards the “Check-in Zone”. A spotlight, like you might see in a theatre, shines down to illuminate this service area. The NFC (Near Field Communication) receiver identifies me. It informs me that all seats in my class are full. Before I get angry, it tells me that I’ve been upgraded to luxury business class. I ruminate back to 2015 when my flight was overbooked. The ground crew left me with just a hollow apology, and I spent the next 5 hours in the complimentary lounge killing time till I got the next flight. What’s more?
“Would you like to be guided to your seat in the double deck Concorde?” it asks. I say, “Wow, OK.” The BLE (Blue tooth low energy) beacons connect with my shoes. They nudge my toes to turn left and right until I make it to my cabin in the aircraft.
Scene 2: Exciting company: I see wonderful people all around—amazing attires and unusually shaped backpacks. I turn on the real-time anthro map layer to explore the details of people moving around me. I see moving AR tags a few feet above the heads of rockstars, writers, architects, entrepreneurs, and cinematographers. I get a whisper from my Travelexa asking if I’d like some company on my trip. I nod my head. A translucent interface appears in front of me that allows me to see everyone. I thoroughly enjoy talking to my fellow travellers, and Travelexa knows it. As I smile, my pupils dilate, my heart beats faster, and my breathing speeds up. The app understands me and swipes the folks right. Twitch on my lips or nod of my head (left or right) swipes them left. As I roll my eyes?? Well, they have been added to a tentative list. Finally, I’m spellbound by Maria, a drummer, my jaw drops. We are matched. Maria was looking for an app designer for her drumming training app. We will talk drums; we will forge designs. Interesting co-passenger.
Scene 3: Surreal, lasting memories: Fond memories are one of the lasting impacts of travel. But while memories fade, photographs do not. My intelligent glasses from B & L nudge me and ask if I’d like to have photographs taken from my POV over the next few hours. While Maria and I talk, laugh, and share insights, the moments get captured. We also want to take what folks in the 2nd decade called “selfies.” I give permission to the cabin, “Please take pictures of us.” The cabin cameras, powered by the best pro photo-sense, unlock, and start capturing candid pictures. The post processors create amazing photos, properly cropped, and highlighted with the caption styles that I typically use. The collages, reels, and portraits are all ready for my review before they get sent out automatically across my approved social channels. Travelexa has often prompted me like this before when I was in the vicinity of interesting or historic locations. The resulting images, influenced by Travelexa’s deep learning from iconic picture studies, always came out to be ultra-professional.
Scene 4: Drooled shopping: My friends and close family members have high expectations, either explicit or implicit, around what I should bring back for them from Italy. There are so many of them, including my mother-in-law, and they all crave different things. I once spent an entire day in Amsterdam looking for hoodies, wooden shoes, and Dutch singing bird toys. Today, however, while Maria and I cycled and surfed, Travelexa was A/B testing gift ideas that fit my budget with similar profiles to the people I needed to shop for. When I returned to my hotel, high-quality gifts and souvenir options were waiting in the lobby for my review and approval. Within 20 minutes, I’d accepted 25 gifts and rejected two. Gift shopping mission accomplished—no haggling, no sweat! I was now free to roam the streets of Verona knowing that all my gifts would get meticulously wrapped up and packed into my baggage at the hotel with their concierge service.
Scene 5: A sartorial dream realized: I’m an eternal Godfather fan and have said more than once that someday I would dress up like Michael Corleone and walk the ravines of Sicily like Al Pacino. Today, Travelexa proposed that I actualize this dream. It submitted a request on my behalf so I could be fitted for a jacket and hat at a local shop. My health app was able to provide my current body dimensions in advance, so almost no alterations were required. Based on my spending habits, Travelexa opted to pay for the tailor using my points balance. This evening, I am Al Pacino on my way to a sonata with Maria. She is less enthusiastic than I am, but she’s playing along.
Scene 6: Talking Gracias: While alone in the lobby, Travelexa asked me if I’d be interested in trying to speak some Italian and attempt an authentic accent. Those 15 minutes changed me forever. For the rest of the evening, I spoke Italian one-liners enthusiastically as folks around me laughed their hearts out at my pithy Italian jokes. The voice assistant continuously guided me on how to react as it interpreted people’s words. 15 basic expressions in Italian are now tattooed on my brain. It made the locals I met smile, laugh, and wonder.
Scene 7: Mingle with aura, flora diaspora: As I depart, my travelogues are full of stories strangers have told me. I came to soak up local culture and food and enjoy the best experience a visitor to Verona could have. I’ve lived my dream through local delights. I will now power off all my devices and immerse myself in the mood Italiano.
That was just a dream, but these experiences may be closer than you think. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this futuristic vision of “7-star travel” that I have conjured up in your mind. As the strategic design leader for my organization, I push my team members to think in novel ways, question convention, and bring the future into the present.
Arun is a specialist in Experience Design. He currently heads the UX Design team at Tavisca, a JPMorgan Chase company. When not trekking glaciers or scuba diving, he loves playing with his cat named Vito