Alex Chang

UX & Interaction Designer

Untethered: Freedom from the Gate

In Summer 2014, in collaboration with Teague, my team at the University of Washington and I set out to explore ways to improve the airport travel experience. Initial research on the air travel industry, consumer offerings, and the current passenger experience revealed two important insights: 1) passengers feel tethered to their gates and are not in control of their own experience, and 2) gates are a source of critical information and services. We hypothesized that a combination of information and services that passengers typically rely on the gate for, personal location data, and a thoughtful approach to delivery would empower passengers to physically and mentally untether from the gate. Through a process of research, analysis, ideation, evaluation and iteration, we developed a concept called Skylark.

Skylark is a system that delivers contextual, personalized information to passengers as they move through the airport. It integrates data from various sources that passengers need, including flight updates, gate activity, indoor maps, directories, and individual location data. It then pushes vital notifications to ensure passengers make their flights on time, enables direct communication with gate agents, and provides information that helps people decide what to do with their time in the airport.


For our initial discovery phase, we mapped the end-to-end experience of an individual's<br />journey from Seattle to Toronto. We also recruited friends and families to participate <br />in four separate diary studies as they traveled during the holidays.
For our initial discovery phase, we mapped the end-to-end experience of an individual's
journey from Seattle to Toronto. We also recruited friends and families to participate
in four separate diary studies as they traveled during the holidays.
We also created a 3D isometric map of an airport terminal and identified the major touch points in <br />passengers' experience journey.
We also created a 3D isometric map of an airport terminal and identified the major touch points in
passengers' experience journey.
Based on the insights we gathered from our primary and secondary research, <br />we brainstormed and iterated on various ideas and concepts.
Based on the insights we gathered from our primary and secondary research,
we brainstormed and iterated on various ideas and concepts.
We further established a number of design principles that are crucial to the success of our <br />eventual solution. We created a matrix mapping these design principles to our concepts.
We further established a number of design principles that are crucial to the success of our
eventual solution. We created a matrix mapping these design principles to our concepts.
Once we narrowed down our ideas and project scope, we created a few versions of <br />paper prototypes for the mobile components of our system concept.
Once we narrowed down our ideas and project scope, we created a few versions of
paper prototypes for the mobile components of our system concept.
Because we have limited access to actual airport terminals, we staged some spaces within the University of <br />Washington libraries to simulate the airport experience. We recruited a number of research participants <br />to walk through our pretend airport and interact with our paper prototypes to help us evaluate <br />our concepts and ideas.
Because we have limited access to actual airport terminals, we staged some spaces within the University of
Washington libraries to simulate the airport experience. We recruited a number of research participants
to walk through our pretend airport and interact with our paper prototypes to help us evaluate
our concepts and ideas.
Based on the feedback of our research participants, we fine-tuned the UI and interaction design of <br />our mobile application and applied the visual language that is consistent with the brand design.
Based on the feedback of our research participants, we fine-tuned the UI and interaction design of
our mobile application and applied the visual language that is consistent with the brand design.
A detailed system diagram for our Skylark concept.
A detailed system diagram for our Skylark concept.
A simplified representation of the Skylark system.
A simplified representation of the Skylark system.
Here is Skylark's value proposition for our three main stakeholders–Passengers, Airports, Airlines
Here is Skylark's value proposition for our three main stakeholders–Passengers, Airports, Airlines