Boeing Onboard Virtual Assistant


Patent Application: 17-1295

The Live Well team was given the task of enhancing the in-flight experience for passengers by creating products that use emerging technologies. In order to enhance the flight experience, productivity of the crew had to be reprioritized so they have more time to focus on the passengers' needs.


Observation and Identifying Insights

First, the Live Well team had to understand the jobs of the in-flight crew. They quickly discovered that Flight Attendants have a lot of tasks and duties that take them away from passengers, creating a less personable flight journey.

The team then had the opportunity to visit Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). While there, they were able to witness the circumstances that Flight Attendants work under and the tools they are given. Considering everything they learned and observed during this time, augmented reality, or AR, was identified as a possible mechanism for a design solution. There are two types of AR: one is a head mounted display (HMD) and the other uses projected holograms. Utilizing these AR technologies, the following opportunity areas were identified at the end of the Research Phase:

Overhead Bins

  • Sensors can communicate how full each bin is and tell passengers whether or not their bag will fit.
  • Boeing’s Assistant can guide each passenger to their seat and make sure they put their luggage in the most suitable spot.

Passenger Information

  • Name tags could help Flight Attendants see all the passengers’ names from afar.
  • When the Flight Attendant gets closer or focuses on an individual passenger, more detailed information can appear in their view.

Ordering Food

  • A holographic interface in front of the passenger can display menu information.
  • Food portions can be displayed in front of the passenger on a full scale.

Passenger Shopping

  • Passengers can browse online retailers through a holographic window and see full-scale 3D holograms of any products they might be interested in purchasing.

Safety Demonstration

  • During the Flight Attendant’s safety demonstrations, a video can be projected in front of each passenger.
  • A hologram can illustrate the plane’s emergency exits, the evacuation route, and oxygen masks.
  • Boeing’s Assistant can help keep the passenger engaged to ensure all safety information is delivered.

Flight Information

  • A holographic interface can make all of this information available to the passenger without the help of a Flight Attendant.
  • A holographic globe would allow passengers to see flight progress, and would allow them to zoom in to see information on connecting flight gates or destination details, like weather and attractions.


With A Little Help From Our Robot Friends

After the Research Report Out, the Live Well team went through a series of design charrettes to further develop existing and emerging concepts. The team ideated around concepts in both their small groups, as well as across the studio. The charrette consisted of a brainwriting/sketching exercise that expanded each team’s ideas into new areas. The team then showed the Flight Attendants further developed concepts. This second interaction was focused on what information would be in the safety demo, how a Virtual Assistant would be designed and how it would behave, and what information passengers would need most while flying.



Meet Bo

Bo is a virtual assistant that, when combined with the augmented reality interface, creates a more personal and enjoyable flight experience. Bo provides passengers with important information and keeps them entertained during long flights. Bo can also help Flight Attendants provide better customer service to ensure passengers have an enjoyable experience.


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