Insights September 8th, 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!

Here is one of those stories.

Leisure Travel in the Future

Story 2 - Leisure Travel.LR

YVR Airport: Thursday May 14, 2037 at 10:30

An autonomous electric vehicle with the Kakashi family onboard silently ascends the ramp leading up to the Departures level at Vancouver International Airport. Stopping in front of the Latin American airline entrance, the vehicle door slides open and two excited children bound out, followed closely by their mom – Deb.

Inside the vehicle, their dad – Yoshi, requests a receipt. A voice responds, “Thirty-five credits for this trip, and we have you booked for a return journey for 16:50 hrs. on May 30th.”

Yoshi exits the vehicle and joins the others, while the vehicle glides down to the Arrivals level where its next scheduled pick-up awaits.

The Kakashis enter a large open plan reception area adorned with First Nations art, framed by tall, glass ceilings.

Moments later, they place their bags on a conveyor belt. The bags activate an overhead screen, and a voice says –“Good morning Mr. Kakashi, your travel documents are in order and your plane is on-time. You’ll be leaving from Gate E127. Please proceed through the Security Zone and ensure that you and your family keep your heads raised for biometrics scanning.”

The family enters the Security Zone – a short passageway, walled on both sides with floor-to-ceiling, backlit panels. As they walk through, one-by-one, the panels switch from white to green, followed by a friendly voice that prompts them to proceed.

Once through security, they are greeted by the centrepiece of YVR’s biodiversity and sustainability initiatives – a multi-story tubular structure made of glass. Inside this tower, workers nurture and cultivate fruit, vegetables and plants, adjust atmospheric controls and gather produce for the day.

A holographic YVR Storyteller is on hand to explain – “Welcome to our vertical farm. We use very little water in our hydroponic systems; the water we do use is collected from rainfall and the power we use is harnessed from the sun, via transparent solar panel windows that surround the Departures area. To supplement the vertical farm’s produce, we source fruit and vegetables from the finest growers here in the B.C.’s Lower Mainland.”

The aroma of deliciously cooked food greets them as they arrive in the airport’s Shopping and Dining area. Travellers saunter from store to store, business people congregate on moving walkways, and the international food court offers a scintillating selection of global cuisines. “My friend Akio told me that the vegetarian cafe here is amazing. Let’s go check it out!” says Deb.

While Yoshi and the kids find a place to sit Deb selects suggested menu items from a screen, based on the family’s personal travel profiles.

Moments later, a server robot arrives at the table with the food as ordered. “Enjoy!”, it cheerfully exclaims and scoots off to the next customer.

The kids tuck in and sample a little of everything. Deb and Yoshi exchange a warm glance. After eating, they make their way to their gate via the moving walkways and settle into their seats in the comfortable waiting area.

A boarding announcement is made and the family lines up to get on the plane. The airline staff greet them and check the family’s credentials. “Enjoy your trip Mr. and Mrs. Kakashi. Jonny. Zina. We’ve left a surprise for you on your seats.”

They walk through the door and down the corridor to the aerobridge, the kids’ beaming smiles wider than ever before as they continue on their voyage of discovery.

More Stories…

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.

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Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas