Insights September 9th, 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.

The Future of Personal Travel

Story 5 - Personal Travel.LR

YVR Airport: Thursday May 14, 2037 at 09:15

A YVR Travel Assistant Robot waits at the entrance of the gate. The flight from Delhi landed a few minutes earlier and a successful Indian businessman enters the terminal, stops and checks his headset to see where his transfer will be.

He looks up and spots the Travel Assistant displaying his name and final destination. “Hello, I’m Aarav Sandhu, are you here to take me through to U.S. Departures?”

“Yes sir,” replies the Assistant, “please follow me.”

Aarav follows the Assistant down a hallway. The Assistant stops and turns its screen towards Aarav and a panel slides open revealing a glass scanner.

“Please place your passport on my scanner and look into my screen. We need to scan your details and biometrics before we proceed down the fast track route into U.S. Departures.”

Aarav places his passport on the panel and looks into the screen.

“Personal Information confirmed and visa cleared. This way please, Mr. Sandhu.”

As they proceed down a corridor Aarav spots his connecting plane through the window. On the window – a short, narrated movie starts up, describing the experience he will encounter in New Mexico. He can also see take-off, flight path and altitudinal data, as well as video of other travellers experiencing zero gravity for the first time – this makes him smile.

Moments later they arrive at the U.S. Departures entrance. A green light flashes as a camera captures Aarav’s biometrics. A voice validates that all checks have been completed and instructs him to proceed through an open door – “Please continue through into U.S. Departures.”

Aarav steps forward leaving the YVR Traveller Assistant behind and enters the U.S. Departures area. Suddenly a voice calls out – “Aarav! Aarav!”

A British woman, Melanie, approaches and they embrace. “It’s you!” says Aarav – “It’s so good to finally meet you.”

“Yes!” replies Melanie beaming – “How cool is this airport?! I need to show you something.”

She grabs his hand and takes him to a screen displaying the facilities in the area. “Look, they have a guest yoga instructor hosting a one-hour practice. We’re always chatting about doing yoga to relax ourselves before the trip – let’s try it out”.

Over the next hour they enjoy a powerful, reflective Asana practice. Afterwards, they head towards the vegetarian café for some food and to talk about the trip.

Post meal they arrive at their gate – a substantial, open area adorned with pictures of space travel.

The zero-gravity video that Aarav saw earlier plays on the window next to the entrance of the ‘Space Gateway’ area. “Good afternoon Mr. Sandhu, Miss Watson, I hope your flight connection went well. Welcome to your interstellar adventure. Come right on in. We fly in t-minus thirty minutes.”

Both Aarav and Melanie exchange a smile and proceed into the Space Age departures lounge. Melanie can’t contain herself – “We’re nearly there. I am beyond excited.”

Aarav smiles to himself – “Me too Melanie. I finally get to be an astronaut.”

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.

Cities Society Work

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