Manchester Airport's Terminal in London introduced holographic customer service agents today. Yes, no kidding, and the holographic images, reproduced from real-life customer agents Julie Caper and John Walsh have been deployed at the entrance to the security area of the airport. Some passengers have even tried to hand their passports to the holograms; that's realistic.
Simon Cowell used the same virtual technology to bring a holographic image of Frank Sinatra for Cowell's 5oth birthday party. The company Musion who created the virtual employees has also worked with the rock bands, The Black-Eyed Peas and Gorillaz' Damon Albarn.
The holographic couple will be explaining and reminding passengers about luggage related restrictions with the intentions of cutting down traffic security lines. Airline officials state that the information about permissible liquids and make-up is posted in many different locations, but passengers are still throwing away non permissible liquids at check points. It is hoped that people seeing the holographic staff members will inspire passengers to pay more attention. It certainly is more cost-effective to use holograms than paying a real person to repeat the same restrictions everyday for hours and hours at a time.
Holographic staff however, does bring some questions to mind. Imagine the holographic duo prompting a passenger to quickly move ahead to the security area. Passengers can't stop or ask questions. Can that not be anymore frustrating than having to wait "oh hold" for a real customer service agent? Imagine having to hear the same holographic speech over and over again at peak holiday times or travel times. Can you get arrested by the TSA for attempting to slap a hologram?
I can't help but think once the novelty of the holographic pair wears off, passengers will ignore John and Julie just as they ignore the constant airport announcements as to what liquids can be carried onto a plane. I much prefer my customer service agents to be real, breathing humans and not "tensator virtual assistants." If I want to see holograms, I'll go to a concert.