Real-time translation allows strangers at airport to have a conversation


To bring people together during the festive season, KLM wanted to do something special for the passengers in transit at the busy Schiphol Airport. The KLM Connecting Seats consists of two seats facing each other that translate a conversation in realtime. Strangers coming from different parts of the world and who spoke different languages were invited to sit in the chairs and communicate with each other in their home language.

The chairs each had built-in microphones and speakers, and we developed a close to realtime voice-to-voice translation (based on Google’s Cloud Translation API), which allowed the participants to communicate back and forth in one of the dozens of languages we made available. The participants were engaged, with interesting, moving and humorous(!) conversations lasting an average of about 10 minutes.

KLM staff, hosting the activation, invited passengers travelling through the airport or on long stop-overs to participate in the experience. They were given an iPad with a dashboard, where they could set the language, and read the transcript live in English as it was being translated between the two participants.

Case video

Product film


Our role 

DDB & Tribal Amsterdam created the campaign and strategy. We were responsible for developing the full ecosystem (from API to backend to dashboard). We also managed the technical components of the chair (microphones, speakers, computer system, iPads etc). The seats and set were designed by a set design team ‘Cineset’ whilst the production of the film was by In Case Of Fire.

Together with

Client: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Agency: DDB & Tribal Amsterdam 


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