← News

Boeing Launches Two Interactive Experiences at Paris Air Show

Ideum's Chief Experience Officer accompanied the new exhibits to gauge how guest interaction addressed project goals.
Authored by
Rebecca Shreckengast

I was in France recently for the Paris Air Show, supporting Boeing as the aviation giant premiered a new interactive tradeshow experience produced by Ideum. 

It's hard to describe just how huge the Paris Air Show is—not just in the aviation community, but geographically. For over a hundred years, it's been THE international meeting place for enthusiasts and professionals in the world of flight (and later, aerospace), and it continues to grow. In order to welcome its over 300,000 attendees, the sprawling show fills over 1,350,000 square feet of the Paris–Le Bourget Airport with exhibition space, with some vendors constructing large office buildings onsite just for the event. Huge deals are made and hundreds of aircraft sold, giving this temporary city an effective GDP larger than that of many countries.

It's also a challenge to describe the size of Boeing Global Services, the umbrella brand housing their nearly unimaginable array of resources supporting the operation side of aviation. I say nearly unimaginable, but by working closely with several Boeing divisions and their legendary design partner Teague, Ideum's Creative Services team did imagine it, and created this new interactive touch-table experience to help others navigate and understand the Boeing ecosystem with clarity.

We are also proud to have designed a custom animated interactive experience for our superwide Pano dual 49" multitouch table, highlighting Boeing's long history of sustainability efforts. Extremely popular both at the Paris Air Show and when it debuted at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, this attractive exhibit's three chapters can either be activated by a facilitator using a custom tangible, or left to cycle on autopilot as guests explore its content.

My goal at the air show was to observe the Boeing Global Services table in use and gather data, which we then used to fine-tune an improved iteration of the exhibit before it moved on to its next appearance at Airventure Oshkosh

Interactive design isn’t a straightforward science. Sure, our design choices are guided by experience in human behavior and past data, but people are complex and surprising in how they interact with new experiences.

Even the clearest UX design will encounter that one user who can't help but color outside the lines.

Some of the more satisfying projects to work on are those which build in this kind of testing and iteration. It’s one thing to gather feedback on a touch-driven app from colleagues—people who create similar experiences—but target users exploring the app within the context of the Paris Airshow will yield another data set entirely. Every new design rests on a set of assumptions held by our clients and our design team about what users may want from an interface, how they’ll explore its content, and how they’ll use the tools. Any set of assumptions can reveal blind spots when challenged in the field.

It’s personally pleasing when a big project comes back from its debut needing very few tweaks. But there’s also a certain satisfaction in discovering something new about the ways that people perceive interactive touchscreen navigation, driven to a large extent by the constantly evolving interfaces of consumer electronics and software. Every new generation of mobile devices, games, ATMs, and even kitchen appliances reshapes consumer expectations and behaviors. One relatively minor design decision at Apple can seed an entirely new set of assumptions about the human-machine interface, and the rest of us have to be ready to adapt and respond.

My background and experience in UX have taught me how important it is to gather data on the end use of things. By measuring quantifiable aspects of interaction, and by interviewing users and clients, we can adjust our assumptions and iterate our designs to better meet the project goals and user outcomes. A small investment in measurement and adjustment can exponentially increase the impact of an experience, improving outcomes and multiplying the whole project's ROI. That's the gold standard in interactive design.