Hologram to greet and guide travelers at N.Y. airports - New York News

'Hologram' to greet and guide travelers at N.Y. airports

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A female "avatar" -- in the form of a life-size hologram type of image -- will soon begin greeting and guiding people at special kiosks at the New York area's three airports.

The computerized avatars will provide automated, basic information to travelers in LaGuardia's Central Terminal Building, Newark Liberty's Terminal B and JFK's Terminal 5 when they are installed in early July.

The computer-generated customer-service agent will be able to respond verbally when asked questions on everything from where the nearest restroom is to where customers should head for a connecting flight.

The virtual worker is projected on a pane of glass that was given the figure of a woman.

This is the first time this technology will be used at an airport in North America, according to the Port Authority.

She was designed to improve customer service, Port Authority officials said -- and she does not need lunch or bathroom breaks or overtime pay.

The machines are being rented on a trial basis for about $180,000 for six months.

It it part of a larger initiatvie to help travelers at the airports.

Improvements will include the addition of more customer care agents, expanded efforts to curtail taxi hustling, the installation of more power poles for electronic devices, and cleaner restroom facilities.

The Port Authority will begin increasing the number of red-jacketed customer care representatives by 20 percent during peak hours with 70 new agents.  Customer service representatives speak a total of 27 different languages, with English and Spanish most prevalent.

An estimated 106 million passengers pass through the airports annually.

The Port Authority's longstanding efforts to crack down on illegal taxi hustlers now will include efforts by customer care representatives to warn travelers about the unlicensed drivers.  In addition, a new expanded marketing campaign will include more than 125 anti-hustling signs on baggage belts throughout the terminals.

Travelers also will find more than 100 additional power poles to supply their electronic devices throughout the terminals at all three airports, along with additional food court seating.

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