The next time you're looking for help at Newark Liberty, JFK, or LaGuardia airport, the answer to your question might come from a friendly, beautiful woman. Just don't expect that woman to be an actual, live human.
As part of a new customer-service initiative, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has installed an avatar — interactive video projected on the plexiglass cutout of a woman's form — in each of its three member airports. The hologram-like spokesperson will be able to guide passengers towards the right gate, inform them of security checkpoint rules, and can even fire off a sales pitch for an airport's duty-free shops. This isn't the maiden voyage for the tech, though — these holographic helpers were installed in Paris's Orly airport last year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, The Port Authority entered into a six-month agreement to rent the high-tech holograms after a customer-satisfaction survey revealed people wanted more human interaction. We're not sure who decided this was the best way to provide human interaction, but nevertheless, the new avatars went into service for the first time on Monday.
How the new technology will pan out has yet to be seen, but we'll be the first to state the obvious — The Port Authority just paid $180,000 to rent three (somewhat creepy) fake humans when they could have paid half that to hire real people. Real people, who would presumably be better equipped to handle actual questions. But then again, real humans wouldn't exactly be the future, now, would they?
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