Turning the airport dash into an Olympic sprint

Check out how Tokyo-based creative lab PARTY uncoiled a carpeted running track in the newest terminal of Narita Airport. A playful nod to Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics, the running track directs travelers toward their gates (blue lanes) and to baggage claim (red lanes.)

What a delightful—and inexpensive—way to guide visitors with a knowing wink that both acknowledges the frantic pace of travel and celebrates the upcoming Olympic festivities.

See more at Visual News and Spoon and Tango.

Early Lessons from Disney’s MagicBands


Disney launched MagicBands—RFID wristbands—at its Orlando parks in 2013. They were developed to replace ticketing and hotel room keys, to enhance and personalize experiences at the parks and, of course to make it easier to spend money on Disney property.

Disney shared a few of their observations about how people use the wearable technology in an article entitled A Billion-Dollar Bracelet Is the Key to a Disney Park. We can learn a lot from their comments:

1. When you launch a new technology for visitors, training staff is critical. Disney’s 70,000 employees had to be trained on the smartband system — the pilot was extended partially to complete training.

2. You can learn a lot from pilot tests. Disney launched this project with a “test-and-adjust” phase which they had to extend to learn as much as they could from the initial visitor interaction. First, only selected visitors who stayed at Disney resorts were able to opt in to the Magic Bands—now all visitors to Disney World can use them. Over the course of the pilot, about 3.5 million visitors used the technology.

3. Visitors prefer smartphones to kiosks in this case. “A faster-than-expected consumer shift to mobile devices had actually saved Disney money; most guests are using their smartphones to gain access to the system while inside the parks, reducing the need for Disney to install costly kiosks.”

4. It is very difficult to pinpoint return on investment on technology that improves the visitor experience. “we’re still trying to figure out how to measure the return on what is a rather large investment. That’s where the frustration is.” While they know that the system allowed 3,000 more visitors to enter the Magic Kingdom (frictionless entry to the park), they do not know the overall impact of the system.

Birdman: The Ride

What does the film Birdman have to do with playfinding? Playfinding, as defined here, is the concept of transforming the taxing and often austere act of navigating into a delightful, enchanting experience. Or, to repeat a Chinese proverb: “the journey is the reward.” Alejandro González…

Take a swing

Eric Howeler and Meejin Yoon of the Boston firm Howeler and Yoon Architecture have transformed a temporary park in South Boston into a delightful surprise — glowing swings beckon old and young to curl up and sway in purple orbits. Meejin Yoon has a playful perspective on the public realm, and thrilled Xlab 2013 audiences. Please join us for Xlab 2014 on November 6.

Read more at Atlantic Cities:
Wait Your Turn for the Swings at Boston’s Adult Playground

Taptic/Haptic Feedback

applewatchdemo1How will game developers and navigation app developers use the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine? At the launch on September 9th, Apple’s Kevin Lynch explained that the watch will tap you on the wrist to tell you whether to turn left or right as you follow a route on Apple Maps.

Soon we will able to literally (and gently) nudge visitors toward their destination—a real improvement over squinting at maps or obeying Siri’s commands…

How might the Apple Watch making traveling easier? The New York Times weighs in…