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Overview

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Redesign the enRoute in-flight experience by creating a new IFE portal with various features, such as a flight tracker, movies, TV shows, podcasts, kids content, games, 3D moving map, city guides, as well as seat and karma controls. This redesign also includes an inclusive, first-of-its-kind solution for visually impaired individuals.

Outcome

Award winning entertainment

• Increased efficiency and satisfaction levels among passengers

• Became the first airline in the world to offer an inflight entertainment system with an accessible solution for visually impaired passengers

• Customers across more than 600 airlines, and on nearly a million flights around the world voted Air Canada as the best in-flight entertainment in North America

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Project

Project duration: 16 months

My roles & responsibilities: In my role on the project, I actively participated in brainstorming sessions, been part of focus groups and usability sessions, and was responsible for designing wireframes and the GUI, as well as ensuring a seamless transition to development.

My Deliverables: Flowchart, wireframes, low and high fidelity prototypes, UI assets

Tools used: Balsamiq, Photoshop

Understand

The team of 12 people prepared, conducted, and analyzed results from 5 brainstorming sessions focused that delivered the following results.

New rebranding

New UI on main screen, handset, and seat controls had to adhere to the rebranding predefined styles.

Evaluation of user feedback revealed

• Lack of accessibility for visually impaired individuals

• Content needed to feature larger elements and touch areas • Enhancements in UI design to present information in a simpler and cleaner manner

• Ability to save and store individual programs (e.g., movies, music, TV shows) and resume them while enjoying other programs (pause a movie to listen to music).

• Improved responsiveness

• Introduction of a constantly visible flight tracking feature.

• Minimization of touch activities (pressing the screen moves the headrest of the passenger in the front seat)

Hardware and system limitations and capabilities

• Optimize visual elements for reduced power consumption

• Design UI components that fit within the constraints of the aircraft's limited space, creating compact and streamlined interfaces for an efficient user experience

• Prioritize essential features, employ adaptive brightness controls, and implement power-saving modes

• Collaborate closely with development teams and suppliers to explore energy-efficient technologies, assess the performance impact of design choices, and find synergies between UI/UX design and software optimization

Define

Post-research, we recognized the need to kickstart main UI sketching before tackling visual impairment interface, seat controls, and handset functions. A robust foundation targeting user's concerns was imperative for deriving subsequent solutions.

Flowchart

A flowchart was created to show the process through which passengers would navigate the 9 primary sections of the in-flight experience

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Create

Ideation

After finalizing the overall layout for all sections, we began brainstorming and sketched over 15+ ideas on how users might navigate the 9 primary sections.

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Prototype

Initial UI

An initial solution was created with two screens only to validate the direction and make sure the UI matched the new rebranding and met the client's expectations for its appearance and style.

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The client withheld approval for the solution, expressing concerns that the UI appeared excessively modern and didn't effectively communicate Air Canada's more traditional essence.

Second and final UI

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The second iteration received approval by the client. 

Wireframes

Subsequently, we embarked on creating a sequence of wireframes to validate the flows throughout the entire app. 

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When we reimagined the entire experience for in-flight entertainment, it wasn't just the screen; we also had to consider the handset and accessibility in the process.

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The device enabled dual-screen interaction and multitasking on its larger display, permitting activities like messaging while watching a movie. We revamped the main UI with a streamlined interface, focusing on simplification and improvement to enhance user-friendliness. Our goal was to optimize the overall user experience, making it more accessible and efficient, especially given the limited screen space available on the handset.

We undertook an additional effort to simplify the user interface, specifically focusing on improving accessibility for individuals with visual impairments. Following multiple brainstorming sessions and user interviews, we devised a simplified solution that catered to the needs of all users, ensuring inclusivity and usability for everyone.

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A seat control panel provided users with the ability to engage with both the seat and the cabin environment.

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Testing

After all wireframes were approved we were able to create a high-fidelity prototype to test the interface with users

Usability studies

What was performed:

We conducted moderated in-person testing, involving passengers in a collaborative process to test the GUI, 

 

What we learned: 

We received valuable insights and opinions. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, with passengers expressing satisfaction with the user-friendly design and seamless navigation.

Project's benefits:

This not only validating our design choices but also emphasizing the effectiveness of our user-centered approach.

 

Updates and testing results:

Following our testing sessions, we made the decision to enhance accessibility by incorporating a frame around the screen, complete with Braille labels. This addition enables users to better discern the location of buttons and interact with the simplified UI effectively, ensuring an inclusive and user-friendly experience for all.

Implemention

Our GUI implementation provided essential features across various devices and platforms, delivering an enhanced user experience. These features included, but were not limited to the following:

Handset solution

• It allowed users to simultaneously watch the latest video on the monitor while using other features such as purchasing duty-free products, order food, send emails, tracking the flight, or chatting with another passenger.

• It can be turned into a phone.

• It knows its orientation and has built-in accelerometers, allowing users to use it for playing games.

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Seat controls solution

• A seat-mounted control panel was introduced in business class, allowing passengers to adjust ambiance and comfort settings

• The UI offered enhanced features and options for adjusting the seat inclination, transitioning from sit to rest mode

• Users were provided with the capability to adjust cushion firmness, customize lighting intensity, control window opacity, and conveniently request assistance from the flight attendant

Accessibility for visually impaired passengers

Extensive testing revealed a brand new solution:

• On older Thales IFE systems, a template with braille that could fit overtop of the touch screen and provide a tactile frame of reference.

• On Panasonic Avionics eX3 IFE system, a selection of audio & video titles (movies, TV shows, music albums, audiobooks, podcasts) accessible through a simplified user interface with the support of audio cues, touch screen inputs and/or handsets

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We then worked together with the development team to make sure the final solution was consistent and strong. By keeping communication open among different teams, we made sure all designs were properly implemented.

 

This teamwork not only improved the quality of our work but also showed our dedication to achieving the best possible result.

Results

Our efforts yielded notable benefits, enhancing operational efficiency for the airline and elevating passenger satisfaction. Air Canada achieved a significant milestone by becoming the world's first airline to provide an inflight entertainment system with accessibility features for visually impaired travelers. This commitment to excellence was recognized by passengers worldwide.

Collaborating with the AirCanada team has been a fascinating journey. This opportunity marked my debut in handling a complete GUI solution rather than just focusing on a single application. I had the chance to address various screen resolutions, ensuring the UI's adaptability. Moreover, I took a holistic approach, considering the overall traveler's experience, including seat commands and the karma handset. Another enriching aspect of this experience was collaborating with a unique demographic, specifically the visually impaired community, which added an intriguing dimension to the project.

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