Mineta San Jose International Airport and 22 Miles made history by creating and implementing three robotic “customer service agents” to greet travelers and help them navigate through the terminal. The project was launched in May 2016 and was officially unveiled to local media and travelers in October 2016. This vision brought interactive wayfinding and digital signage to life by showcasing the opportunities that businesses can enable through the power of technology.
Nominating Company: 22Miles, Milpitas, California
Venue: Mineta San Jose International Airport, San Jose, California
Project: Mineta San Jose International Airport Install United States First Airport Wayfinding Digital Signage Robots Powered by 22Miles, https://www.flysanjose.com/, San Jose, California
The San Jose International Airport was looking for a unique solution that improved the travel experience of customers with a focus on spirited innovation and technology. The goal was to represent the revolutionary and exploratory culture of Silicon Valley technology, which improves the quality of life for people all over the world.
“It’s very important for Silicon Valley’s airport to offer services for our travelers that are iconic to our region…we want to create a sense of place,” said Rosemary Barnes, a public information manager at San Jose airport.
To honor this vision, robots Norma, Amelia and Piper were created to establish the kind of tech-forward and memorable experience that one would expect from the area, as well as to create a better experience for customers. Furthermore, all participating partners were happy when the project was implemented, exceeding the timeline goals.
Challenges for 22Miles included working with new and unique hardware that had various moving (physical) pieces, developing a way to keep the dancing robots in the designated area and finding the right balance in the UX in between entertainment and informational. While the robots needed to have “selfie” and dance capabilities, they also needed to be confined to their ‘fenced’ positions in the terminal and promote their concessions via a searchable directory and wayfinding map. The robots also needed to live up to the hype of creating something so unique and custom. Ultimately, the project required 22Miles to go the extra mile in development and testing as well as a forming close working and collaborative relationship with the client and partner on the project, the SJC Airport Team.
In order to execute, 22Miles performed a number of workflow adaptations to the standard project design, development and management processes and built out several key tools to enable this implementation. One of these tools was a custom “robot fencing” system that enabled full control over these friendly machines. This would ensure that the robots would stay by Gates 11, 21, and 25 on their custom “Geo Mats” and wouldn’t wander off into other parts of the airport. In addition to this, the robots were programmed to speak in English, Spanish, Japanese, German and French to ensure communication with a larger scope of international travelers. 22Miles also worked to create a very streamlined communication workflow to ensure all parties were aligned on goals and timelines.
Today, Norma, Amelia and Piper can be found helping inform and navigate travelers in the San Jose International Airport. The feedback from partners and customers alike has been overwhelmingly positive, and 22Miles is confident that this is only the beginning of wayfinding being able to transform customers’ innovative ideas into fully functioning realities.
“Our robots offer travelers who are arriving and departing through Silicon Valley’s airport an iconic experience, reflecting our region’s unique culture of innovation,” said San Jose Mayer Sam Liccardo. “This is also another example of how we’re partnering with the private sector through our Smart City Vision to demonstrate new technologies that can help shape the way we live, work, play and travel.”
22Miles is confident that this execution is only the beginning of leveraging wayfinding to develop smart spaces and strategic development of major public areas.