Holograms to help passengers through security

Kim Pilling,Pa
Friday 28 January 2011 13:53

Passengers at Manchester Airport will be greeted by holograms of staff from next week in a bid to reduce security check queues.

The images of customer service workers John and Julie were created by the same company which brought the chart-topping animated band Gorillaz to life on stage.

The recordings of actual employees John Walsh and Julie Capper will appear as travellers enter the security search area at Terminal 1. They will explain the liquid restrictions and remind passengers to have their boarding cards ready.

Bosses at the airport say it has become the first in the world to introduce holograms as part of its passenger security preparation.

Julie Armstrong, customer services director at Manchester Airport, said: "We are always looking for new ways to improve the experience of our airport for customers but four years after the restrictions were introduced, passengers understandably forget about liquids.

"We don't want anyone to have to throw their drink or make-up away so we've tried lots of different ways to reinforce the liquid rules, from posters to people dressed up as giant deodorant cans!

"Maybe holograms are the answer. You certainly can't miss them and with the real John and Julie already being popular with our customers, I'm hopeful that their virtual selves will be a big hit too."

The cutting-edge technology developed with hi-tech firm Musion also provides the option of recording other scripts to use at the airport.

Talking about her hologram, the real Ms Capper said: "If our holograms help our passengers through the security process even quicker then it will be a good thing.

"I have to say it's strange to see yourself in virtual form and I'm hoping that I'll be able to rely on my virtual self to carry some of my workload. I wonder if I can send it to meetings in my place and whether anyone will notice?"

Mr Walsh said: "The liquid restrictions remain an area of confusion for many of our passengers and it's something we still have to spend a lot of time reminding our passengers.

"That can slow the process down for everyone and that's something we want to find a solution to.

"If you look at the entrance to most security areas in airports, a lot of space is set aside for information relating to the current restrictions."

Musion founder James Rock also used the technology with the Black Eyed Peas on their latest single The Time (Dirty Bit).

He said: "We've developed this technology for many uses but it's perfectly suited for an airport environment where the support of recorded messages can help with passenger information.

"It's something we've worked on for a number of years at Musion and we'd like to see its widespread use for practical purposes like the virtual assistants.

"We can reproduce musical performances and, as an example, Simon Cowell had a hologram of Frank Sinatra perform at his 50th birthday so you can see where we can take this technology."

The holograms will be in place from Monday. Other airports around the UK are investigating their installation, the airport said.

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