Taking advice from a ‘virtual’ assistant sounds like something out of Minority Report.
But our reality and that on the big screen are not far apart – at least at UK airports – where virtual staff are popping up to make your journey through the terminal a bit less stressful.
East Midlands has become the latest British airport to ‘hire’ a holographic agent to help simplify the security process for passengers.
The new virtual assistant is a holographic projection of the airport’s real-life senior terminal services assistant, Heather Hodson and is tasked with advising passengers about liquid restrictions and security procedures.
The real-life Heather Hodson, said: “Security procedures understandably still confuse many of our passengers.
“Over the past few years, the airport has introduced many ways to prepare passengers before security by using TV screens, posters and terminal announcements to remind customers about the liquid restrictions.
“We’re hoping that this innovative technology will capture their attention.”
The virtual agent is part of a £200,000 refurbishment of the airport’s security area.
The technology comes from multimedia company Musion, who created a sturdy, transparent surface suitable to project a high definition video on to. The airport claims that it looks “almost as good as the real thing”.
Are virtual assistants taking over UK airports?
Virtual hired helpers are already in use at London Luton, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester airports, in an effort to take the stress out of security screening processes.
And airports have hinted that their virtual assistants could one day help passengers in other areas of the airport.
East Midlands says it hopes introduce another hologram in the terminal in the near future.
London Luton, which claims to have been the world’s first airport to introduce virtual assistants – named Holly and Graham – said the agents could be used at immigration or in retail areas to help relay important messages to passengers.
In France, Paris Orly has been trialling the use of avatar-like virtual boarding agents to direct passengers to their gate.