Two UK airports are claiming world firsts with trials of life-size holographic mannequins designed to convey passenger information and other guidance.
At London Luton Airport, two 'Virtual Assistants' nicknamed 'Holly' and ‘Graham’ are being trialled within the Central Search Area, where they brief passengers on security search area preparation. At Manchester Airport the 'holographic effect' mannequins ‘John’ and ‘Julie’ based on staff members John Walsh and Julie Armstrong greet passengers and explain the liquid restrictions.
Luton's Virtual Assistants were developed by queue management firm Tensator, and are built around a rear-projection system displaying a high-definition image onto a mobile acrylic display silhouette with a 1.5m floor footprint. The presentation is repeated every 30 seconds, although information sequences can be longer. The units will be behind barriers, beyond the reach of graffitists.
The Manchester units were developed in conjunction with live event 3D hologram specialist Musion, using similar high-gain rear-projection onto cut-outs with acrylic frontages. Musion director James Rock said although the holographic units must be engaging, they must avoid being overly attractive: “We don't want them to draw too much of a crowd, that would defeat their purpose”.
Initial reaction to both trials has been favourable. “Holly and Graham are being used to communicate important messages in a way which is consistent and compelling to passengers,” reports London Luton Airport managing director Glyn Jones. “The key indicator [of their effectiveness] will be the speed with which passengers pass through this area.”