Recently, La Guardia Airport unveiled its first avatar, named Marie. Tom Bosco, the airport’s general manager, told The New York Times that, “She never complains, she’s pretty, she’s got a good personality,” he said. “She’s a little bit shallow though.” Marie appears as a 6-foot tall, blonde women and is created from a digitally broadcast image from a projector onto a inch-thick glass screen coasted with special film. The company that built Marie is known as Parabit Systems. Marie is prompted to give her 90-second informational script whenever anyone comes within 30 feet of her, which is detected by motion sensors.
Each avatar cost $60,000, and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be gauging customer response to these additions in the next few months. If things go well, they may install as many as five more. Bosco noted that these avatars will help releive airport staff from providing basic airport information, like terminal and restroom locations. Though some are excited about the addition, others see this as another way to avoid having contact with a real employee at an airport, and as a step in the wrong director for customer service.