Insights September 7th, 2016

As a Futurist I get asked a lot about what the future holds (no surprise there) but, when you get asked to think about a travel hub that hundreds of thousands of people use every year and what it will be like in 20 years then I find myself faced with a difficult challenge. To create a realistic, and fantastical, future that is completely practical, achievable, and supportive to great human experience for both travelers and workers.
So, when YVR approached me with this challenge I drew on Design Fiction to help draw out that vision of the future for this world leading airport, here in Vancouver. I weave technologies that I feel will be commonplace in the future into great traveler experiences using advancements we will likely see in 2037:

  • In-airport vertical farms that deliver fresh vegetables daily;
  • Holographic customer service representatives;
  • Robots for service, passport control and loading luggage for passengers;
  • Automatic car ports;
  • Augmented reality contact lenses that download and reveal airport maps and business events and provide on-the-fly instructions;
  • Biometrics;
  • …and even access to space travel!

What is Design Fiction?

‘Design Fiction’ is speculative design.
Many people are credited with creating this term. I personal like what Joseph Lindley and Paul Coulton propose in that design fiction be defined as:

  • Something that creates a story world
  • Has something being prototyped within that story world
  • Does so in order to create a discursive space”, where ‘something’ may mean ‘anything’.

Examples of the media used to create design fiction storyworlds include videos, short stories, comics, fictional crowdfunding videos, fictional documentaries, and pastiches of academic papers and abstracts.
So, with this in mind I went about writing 5 short stories, accompanied by illustrations, and a summary video to really help people imagine what the future could hold.

What does YVR 2037 feel like?

I have written the 5 stories to be traveler-centric and immersive. They integrate today’s edge technologies (that exist in early prototype and theorized stages) to help create a seamless and friction-free environment for the traveler – from entering the terminal to security to dining to landing to transferring and beyond.

This vision of the future is helping to build interest and awareness in Phase 2 of the YVR 2037 planning and consultation process, where the public can help guide airport and land-use planning through the next two decades. 

In this blog I will feature each story in full over the next few days (you can fast track to download all of them here) and I wanted to share the video that was created for this (without the voiceover to show the vision in isolation).

You can see more information on the project and what it is trying to achieve over at


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.

Cities Society Work

Futurist Keynote Speaker and Consultant - Nikolas Badminton

CEO of EXPONENTIAL MINDS and an award-winning Futurist Speaker, researcher and author. His expertise and thought leadership will guide you from complacency to thinking exponentially, planning for longevity, and encouraging a culture of innovation. You will then establish resiliency and abundance in your organization. Please reach out to discuss how he can help you, and read on to see what is happening in the world this week.

Contact Nikolas