Meet AVA — the airport virtual assistant stands ready to help you out in Newark and La Guardia airports, and soon JFK. This virtual guide, also called a hologram virtual assistant, is created by projecting onto a six-foot-tall human-shaped piece of plexiglass.
At the moment, she's only an information kiosk that spouts a prerecorded message when approached by a user — but according to her creators, airportone.com, she will soon have voice-recognition and the ability to answer your questions. She will also be multilingual, to assist international travelers.
Right now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are conducting a six-month trial with these virtual assistants. The public reactions have been mixed. Some like the novelty and others are weirded out by the way her eyes that seem to follow them around the room When idle, AVA is programmed to fiddle and look about in different directions.
The developers have aspirations broader then just airport kiosks. Their website features different models, for use in hospitals, business offices, stores and museums. Soon interactive holograms might become part of our everyday life. While airportone's promotional material reads like the creepy set-up for any "technology gone rogue" plot, it does make a strong point:
She works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and doesn't charge for overtime. She never gets sick and doesn't require a background check.
At least she isn't armed and mobile. Yet.
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni at Newark Liberty International Airport unveiling.