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Airport avatar Libby debuts at Newark, with more to follow at JFK and LaGuardia

Newark Liberty International Airport 's new virtual Customer

Newark Liberty International Airport 's new virtual Customer Care Representative avatar talks Friday, July, 27, 2012, at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. The avatar, Liberty, will recite a 90-second script that answers frequently-asked questions, such as how to find baggage claim. Liberty, who is named after Newark Liberty International Airport, starts speaking any time a person comes within 30 feet of the avatar. And her eyes appear to follow as a person walks past. (July, 27, 2012) (Credit: AP)

I can understand why Newark Liberty International Airport has hired an avatar to help with customer service: Travelers tend to be quite rude. I would bet there are many service reps out there who wish they were akin to holograms, able to provide automated responses and nothing more.

Not-so-cleverly named Libby debuted in all her two-dimensional glory Friday at Newark, and she's expected to be joined by two friends by mid-August. In total, the three cost $180,000. The computerized, "hologram-like" helpers also will appear at LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building and Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 5, according to a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The avatars cannot take questions, but are more like information hotlines.

Tensator Virtual Assistants Holly and Graham (now that's clever!) were unveiled at London Luton Airport about 18 months ago, and Bilingual Video Image Carla smiled for the first time June 22 at Boston's Logan Airport.

One wonders: When we lose our luggage, do they feel our pain?

This I know: Libby does look smart in her vest and ascot-like scarf. (Only the real holograms get actual ascots.) The Associated Press reports that her 90-second script is triggered whenever folks are within 30 feet of her.

Pictured: Libby does her thing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Tags: airports , JFK , LaGuardia

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