Airport Introduces Security Holograms

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John and Julie are the newest members of the security staff at Manchester Airport, the largest regional airport in the U.K., but they are not human. They are holograms.

The airport today became the first in the world to use talking holograms as part of its passenger security screening for airplanes. The idea is to cut down traffic in security lines.

John and Julie – virtual versions of two actual customer service employees at the airport, John Walsh and Julie Capper – greet passengers at security at the airport's Terminal 1, explain liquids restrictions and advise travelers to have their boarding passes ready.

Airport officials say the idea of using the cutting edge technology came from the music industry, including the animated band Gorillaz.

The virtual airport employees were created in conjunction with Musion, a company that also recently worked with The Black Eyed Peas.

"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," says Musion founder James Rock.

The holograms use a special surface designed to "retain maximum transparency and strength" and high quality high definition video.

Some passengers at Manchester Airport have already been fooled, spotted trying to hand their passports to the holograms, officials said.

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Julie Armstrong, the customer services director at Manchester Airport, says the airport has tried for years to get the message across that you can't bring large containers of liquids on planes and hopes the holograms will help.

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

For her part, Capper says having a hologram of herself is strange, but if it helps make security lines quicker "it will be a good thing."

Other airports in the UK are looking into similar installations.

Photos, Manchester Airport
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