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Paris airport tests 'virtual' boarding agents

August 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An airport in France is trying out 'virtual' boarding agents, trying to modernize its terminals with the avatars.

The two-dimensional holograms always smile and don't need breaks.

The pilot project at Paris' Orly airport began in July, and so far, it's been met with a mix of amusement and surprise by travelers.

People often try to touch and speak to the video images that direct them to their boarding gates.

The images materialize seemingly out of thin air when a real-live boarding agent presses a button to signal the start of boarding.

They are actually being rear-projected onto a human shaped silhouette made of Plexiglas. Actual airport boarding agents were filmed in a studio to create the illusion, which the airport hopes will be more eye-catching and easier for passengers to understand than traditional electronic display terminals.

The technology behind the images was developed by a Paris audiovisual marketing agency, L'Oeil du Chat. Similar virtual agents are in place in airports in London and Manchester since earlier this year.

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