As part of its centenary celebrations, British Airways partnered with the Royal College of Art to explore the next 100 years of aviation. 40 students were selected across the Schools of Design and Architecture to collaboratively imagine how technological and scientific developments will impact future customer experience within global travel, from applications of artificial intelligence to nano technology.
Our Concept
Aer is a shape-changing smart luggage concept to improve mobility of passenger luggage for both the passenger(s) and the airlines during a journey. The Aer carrier combines generative design and nanotechnology to rethink how people and airlines will move luggage in 2050. Aer will help simplify travel with auto-packing features, DNA based security, gesture transparency and autonomous movement.
The world of travel is changing. The customer journey at 30,000 feet will be enhanced with virtual reality and augmented reality. But the future of travel will still be human-centered. We are a dichotomy: practical and emotional, logical and sentimental. We want to travel with objects that are important to us but the process of packing can be tedious and carrying luggage can be awkward.
The Aer concept aims to change this. Using nanotechnology, soft robotics and bio tech developments that are currently in their embryonic stage at labs around the world, Aer is a shape-shifting and self-assembling carrier the size of a disc. You’ll inform it what you want to pack and it will take care of the rest. Aer technology will organize your belongings into three categories: biodegradable, fragile and compressible.
It will then use generative design to autonomously pack your items in the most efficient manner. No more locks and keys, simply touch the section of the carrier that you wish to open and using a DNA scanning technology that identifies the owner, the carrier will open. To double check everything is inside, run your hand over the carrier and watch as the cover transforms from opaque to transparent. Once you’re ready to go, the carrier will transport itself to the airline pick-up point and meet you at your final destination. Using its shape-shifting features it will change its physical form to suit the environment, while protecting all your belongings. The carrier will allow airlines to store and load luggage securely and quickly. And you can track it every step of the way thanks to technology linked to your personal devices.
Research Highlights
Our team spent 2 months mapping out the movement of luggage from passenger homes onto planes and then off it to be picked up at the passenger's final destination. We also conducted mini workshops with British Airways ground staff to gain qualitative understanding of the stakeholder's roles and responsibilities in the process. Did you know that most planes do not load your luggage until they have confirmed that you are in your seat?
The project was displayed at the Saatchi Gallery in London and attracted 30,000+ people. It enabled radical dialogue on the different futures people hope to see and how human centered design can enable those visions! The show also travelled to Shanghai. Here are some photos from the Saatchi exhibition.
A Luggage free travel experience? 
Coming Soon :)
Dream team: Toker (MA Product Design), Rime (MRes), Kiproula (MRes) and yours truly.
My Role: Everyone did everything on this project! I played a key role in synthesizing research learnings into practical next steps, developing visual assets, building our concept, sourcing materials and weaving our story together.
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