OverviewOutcomeWhy airport?Challenge 1: Design systemChallenge 2: InteractionImpactReflectionBack to top


An intelligent & conversational voice assistant for airports

Motion Design


The Challenge

Flying commercially can sometimes feel like nothing more than a series of inconvenient events. From inadequate information visibility at the airport, delayed or canceled flights to long lines and a complicated series of procedures, the traveler experience at PIT can be both disjointed and frustrating.

The Solution

A smart all-in-one virtual assistant supports the whole itinerary with responsive voice-led features that intelligently address complex requests for travelers under pressure, which makes airports more efficient and enjoyable, and enhances engagement with services by connecting passengers with more visible airport infrastructure.


Youngryun Cho;
Matt Muenzer,
Devika Pillai


6 weeks
(Aug. to Oct. 2021)

My Roles

User research
Concept development
Motion design
Visual design


Pittsburgh International Airport


“Hi, I'm Pia! I'm here to solve your traveling problems.”

Through this video, let's see how Pia support the whole itinerary with responsive voice-led features that intelligently address complex requests for travelers under pressure.

"Hi, I'm Pia! Find me on your mobile phone & airports kiosks"

Experiences designed for Mobile & Kiosk.

"Hi, I'm Pia! Do you want to meet my siblings?"

Interaction states designed for Pia.


Why Pittsburgh Airport?

Pittsburgh international airport is a densely populated space with a yearly average of 9.8 million people traveling through pre-covid. However, current traveler experiences can be complicated and confusing because current interfaces that support the airport infrastructure, a mobile app and airport kiosk, are very poor.

a. Current Pittsburgh airport's mobile app only serves as a manual directory.

b. Current Pittsburgh airport's kiosks only support airline check-in software.

Why Travelers Are Struggling?

Through our traveler interviews of 5 frequent flyers, 3 first-time passengers, 8 pick-up staff, and feedback for Pittsburgh International’s digital platforms, we identified a number of common pain points shown here.

Flight Delays
Long Commutes
Lack of Amenities
Language Barriers
Time Crunch

Analyzing User Journey

Once we identified the travel pain points that travelers have, we realized those pain points don’t just start at the airport, but while you’re planning to get there, or even arrive at a new airport. So we mapped user journeys to find opportunities to help.

Analyzing Touch Points

Then we found the airlines only cover a few touch-points, so passengers may lose some experience in the transition gap between airlines and airports. So we tried to bridge the gap to provide passengers with a cohesive experience and enjoyable experience when they are taking flight.

Why VUI Be Helpful To Solve Travelers' Problems?

From the above research, we found many in-airport needs are complicated and time-sensitive, and travelers passing through Pittsburgh's airport have limited resources to support their needs, as current platforms suffer from inadequate information visibility.

This is why we need a data-rich assistant that makes information quicker and easier to access through intuitive and dynamic conversations, ultimately improving the interaction between travelers and airports.

Where VUI Could Be Implemented?

Genuinely, VUI can work for the entire air travel experience through 3 broads.


Parking, Ground Transport, Travel Time

Check-in, Luggage, Security

Dining, Shopping, Management, Experience

Research Conclusion

Voice interfaces are an effective solution for addressing travelers' complex and time-sensitive needs in the airport environment.


Design Direction

An intelligent and data-rich assistant for airports that makes information accessible through intuitive and dynamic conversations.

We wanted an assistant only for the airport, that can help travelers find quick, actionable information.

Design Challenge 01

How to improve the current Pittsburgh airport's experience which is inaccessible, cold and impersonal?

The current travel pain points don’t just start at the airport, while travelers are planning to get there, and arriving there. These problems are real and solid, and make the entire travel experience inaccessible, cold, and impersonal.

Design Solution 01

Conveying an accessible and personable character through a redesigned design system.

When we set out to design how this assistant would look, feel, and behave, we wanted to use what we learned from our research. We decided there that an assistant supporting air travel, and living in the aviation space, should be decisive, straightforward, and intelligent.

Now Let's Meet PIA!

Pia's Logo & Form

Our final form was chosen for invoking qualities of navigation and movement while providing versatile transformations.

Pia's Color Palette

The blues are close to aviation, airports, and sky shades, and greens have the feeling of energetic, advanced technology.

Pia's Typography

We use typography that is accessible and easy to read for everyone, regardless of their language.

Pia's Icon Style

We used an icon style using translucency and opacity in our identity.

3 Ways To Invoke Pia

According to universal design principle, we should provide multiple means of representation through different modalities for users to achieve their goal:
1. Hot word "Hi, Pia";
2. Soft tap-to-talk (TTT) button on the screen;
3. Keyboard input for privacy protection.

Pia's Motion Statements

We identified Pia's motion to be fluid, agile, and light. She doesn’t just move horizontally or vertically, but can twist and turn and bend, and pour in and out of points.

We put Pia's each statement on the active-passive and receptive-assertive matrix, which helps us to see her personality.

Pia's Branding

Design Challenge 02

How to integrate PIA into airports and interact with travelers?

Travelers going through Pittsburgh’s airport have little resources to support their needs, but the current platforms provided (an official airport mobile app and a full-featured kiosk that only supports airline check-in software) have ample potential.

Current Interfaces Problems

1. Lack of visual hierarchy. Current mobile and kiosk interfaces are a simple list of service directories. Users may struggle to understand the flow of information.

2. Poor typography. Current app has inappropriate font sizes that are hard to read.

3. Inappropriate color usage. The green has insufficient contrast between text and background.

4. Cluttered user interface. The current screens have overcrowded with too much information, which can overwhelm users.

5. Neglecting accessibility.

Design Solution 02

Redefine airport assistant which can seamlessly switch between mobile and kiosk.

To give Pia an appropriately connected system in which to live, we began redeveloping the Pittsburgh International Airport app (which was previously a simple list of service directories).

Meet Mobile PIA

Redesigned Mobile Interface

In the redesigned app, we introduced the voice assistant as an added affordance, enabling both GUI navigation and VUI interaction.

Mobile GUI & VUI

Current Pia can help travelers solve many pain points such as booking a parking space in advance, managing the time by telling you the TSA waiting time, or recommending a restaurant to you before boarding, etc,.

Home page

Reserve parking lots
TSA waiting time
Delay notification
Restaurants discovery

Asking Pia a question opens up a conversation overlay. The states of the VUI are matched by supporting GUI patterns on the screen.

Meet Kiosk PIA

Redesigned Kiosk Interface

In the redesigned kiosk interface, we put PIA top-center, and multilingual catchphrases below it to suggest that users can speak to Pia in their languages.

Why Do We Need Kiosk Pia?

Accessibility is important. From the interview, we discovered that some travelers aren't necessarily comfortable downloading apps onto their phones in public places. Additionally, some elderly individuals don't have smartphones, making the kiosk an ideal alternative.
Essentially, Kiosk Pia has 3 unique features that differentiate it from Mobile Pia.

1. Data privacy and security.

Kiosk Pia doesn't keep conversation history. Users can enter private data using the kiosk's keyboard instead of speaking it aloud in public.

2. Pinpoint at airport.

Kiosk Pia serves as a pinpoint to help you identify your current location. When users ask staff for help, the staff can easily determine the users' location within the airport because the kiosk has a fixed position.

3. Unique hardware interaction.

They are equipped with accent lighting, a camera, a microphone, a barcode reader, and a passport scanner. All these features provide critical affordances to help travelers address a variety of needs, even if they don't have the app already installed on their phone.



We developed a rapid prototype using Figma and VoiceFlow and conducted usability testing at Pittsburgh International Airport. The results were highly positive, with users finding the prototype easy to navigate, intuitive, and efficient in addressing their needs. This successful testing demonstrated the potential of our solution in enhancing the overall traveler experience and validating our design choices.


We believe PIA would help the airport to build an entire traveling ecosystem, it will not only improve passengers' experience, but also better serve the airport’s economy. These features and systems can serve as a an intelligent interface to support operational staff and optimize passenger experience across airports. We would hope that assistants such as Pia could make not just Pittsburgh International Airport, but other airports across the world smarter and more efficient.


Plan ahead for successful research.

The primary challenge of our PIA project was conducting research on time-sensitive airport passengers, which led us to observe behaviors, procedures, and kiosk interactions, and attempt to interview passengers and staff. However, we encountered problems such as passengers being in a hurry, personal information constraints on kiosk observations, and a lack of permission to enter the gate area. From here, we learned that airports have strict regulations, which require detailed planning and obtaining permission in advance. Ultimately, our proactive approach helped us overcome these challenges and successfully complete the project.

Accessibility comes first.

Accessibility was our top priority in the PIA project. Through primary research, including airport observations and interviews, we discovered the importance of kiosks for passengers who don't have smartphones, are concerned about downloading apps in public spaces, or have too much luggage. To ensure data privacy, we designed the kiosk with different data features than a phone app, including no recording of passengers' conversation history and the option for keyboard input in public spaces. Additionally, accessible typography for different languages was crucial for international travelers.

Data privacy is a significant concern.

Protecting customer privacy should always be a priority. While designing Pia to be more convenient, we incorporated a feature to automatically access users' other apps, such as Google Calendar, to import flight information. However, user testing revealed that some users had concerns about this feature, and we realized the need to give users control over their data. To address this, we added a notification to the onboarding page, asking users whether Pia could access their Google Calendar. This simple but essential design change ensured that user privacy was respected.


Thank You To My Team

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my incredible teammates, Matt, Devika, and Youngryun. Without your support and collaboration, completing this amazing project would have been impossible. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn numerous skills from each of you, including graphic design, motion design, and project organization. Your expertise and camaraderie made this journey not only successful but also enjoyable. Thank you for being such an inspiring team!

Design Process