Airport uses holograms to reduce security queues

Manchester Airport is using holograms of two staff members as part of its passenger security preparation; claiming to be the first airport in the world to do so.

The technology is established in the music industry including bringing the animated band Gorillaz to life and is being trialled in an effort to cut security queues.

Manchester Airport hologramsPassengers in Terminal 1 will now be met by John and Julie; recordings of customer service staff John Walsh and Julie Capper who currently work as part of the customer service team at the airport.

The holograms of Walsh and Capper will greet passengers before they enter the security search area to explain the liquid restrictions and remind travellers to have their boarding cards ready.

The technology was developed in conjunction with Musion, and uses a texture that is carefully prepared during manufacture to retain maximum transparency and strength.

Manchester Airport said the resulting surface betters that of a glass mirror, allowing the reproduction of high definition video at such high quality that they look real.

The airport said the technology is confusing passengers that much they have been seen presenting their passports to the holograms.

James Rock, Musion founder, said: "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. It's something we've worked on for a number of years and at Musion and we'd like to see its widespread use for practical purposes like the virtual assistants.

"We can reproduce musical performances and as an example Simon Cowell had a hologram of Frank Sinatra perform at his 50th birthday so you can see where we can take this technology."

Although the holograms will remind passengers about the current liquid restrictions any message can be recorded.

Julie Armstrong, customer services director at Manchester Airport, said: "We are always looking for new ways to improve the experience of our airport for customers. But four years after the restrictions were introduced, passengers understandably forget about liquids. We don't want anyone to have to throw their drink or make up away so we've tried lots of different ways to reinforce the liquid rules, from posters to people dressed up as giant deodorant cans! 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."

Restrictions on liquids were introduced in 2006 after a plot was uncovered to smuggle liquid explosives on board transatlantic airliners and detonate them mid-flight. The issue of airport security has returned this week with the bomb at Moscow's Domodedovo airport and the recent raising of the Home Office threat level from substantial to severe.

Capper added: "I have to say it's strange to see yourself in virtual form and I'm hoping that I'll be able to rely on my virtual self to carry some of my workload. I wonder if I can send it to meetings in my place and whether anyone will notice."

The holograms will be in place in Manchester Airport's Terminal 1 from Monday. Other airports around the UK are currently investigating their installation.

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