business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

More than 100 years ago, an official from the US Patent Office made a statement that has echoed through the decades as a whopper of a mistake.

Basically, he said, that everything that could be invented had been invented. He was obviously wrong.

But let’s cut that long-dead official some slack, first off because the quote is believed to be misremembered and secondly because we can all understand his thinking. Look around your office or home at the wild array of technology you have and admit that at times you too think that pretty much everything possible has been created.

And, of course, that too would be very wrong.

A peak into where technology could take us next was recently highlighted in TechCrunch and it’s a sign of what could be. TechCrunch examines a new test project launched in partnership by Delta Airlines and (the wonderfully named) Misapplied Sciences at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a major Delta hub.

Think for one second about the last time you were in a hub airport, be it Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth or Chicago O’Hare. You got off a plane and raced to see one of the flight boards, always inconveniently positioned, to find the gate for your next flight. You scanned a seemingly endless list of flights and gates hoping somehow to find yours before the screen moved on to another list.

Delta and Misapplied Sciences have changed all of that. If you register with Delta upon checking in your face is in the computer bank so that as you stare at the screen you will see only your flight, your gate and your name. Incredibly if multiple people stare at the screen at the same moment, each will only see their own information.

It’s as if technology is telling us, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

As Albert Ng, Misapplied’s CEO told TechCrunch, “The point of Parallel Reality is that you can create an entire venue that is customized just for you. The vision is of course, as you walk through from curb to gate, throughout the airport, you’ll be able to have the entire airport just handhold you and provide a seamless, personalized experience for you.”

As we have seen through endless technological breakthroughs in recent years, what happens in one industry rarely stays there alone. So if this incredible experiment in personalized information works in Detroit (in all fairness, the project has been substantially delayed by the pandemic) it likely won’t be long until it shows up in other consumer facing industries. And that includes retail.

It’s not hard to image frequent shopper programs getting tied to a similar gathering of information that would allow supermarket shoppers to traverse their usual store, guided by technology that would take them through their shopping list product to product. There absolutely might be hesitation thanks to privacy concerns, but if the experience is so vastly improved for the shopper even that could be overcome.

It’s even possible to imagine how else such personalized technology could be applied to enhance and improve the shopper experience to allow personalization and service in previously unimaginable ways.

The reality is that most certainly everything that can be created hasn’t happened yet and who knows what is next. What Misapplied Sciences and Delta are doing is a sure sign of that, so get ready. More is coming.

BTW, Here's how a local TV station covered it:

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.