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Transportation Technology

"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In 102

An anonymous reader writes One of the developers behind special effects used in the film Avatar has inked a deal with airline check-in kiosk manufacturer BCS to implement avatars for personalized and interactive customer service. Dr Mark Sagar's Limbic IO is applying 'neurobehavioral animation' combining biologically based models of faces and neural systems to create live, naturally intelligent, and expressive interactive systems. "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch that people had when checking in at a traditional manned counter," Patrick Teo, BCS CEO says. "Travelling can be stressful and our aim is to make the interaction between human (passenger) and computer (check-in) as natural and helpful as possible."
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"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

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  • nice job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Sunday July 20, 2014 @11:54AM (#47494533)
    Yes we all want interactive terminals at the airport. We are not at all concerned about waiting 1 hour to checks bags, another hour to get through security and a third useful hour spent waiting to board. No, let's get hyper-aggressive about how the computer looks at the airport.
  • by astralagos ( 740055 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @11:59AM (#47494547)
    "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch..." the solution of hiring more people will, of course, not be considered.
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:17PM (#47494677)
    Lining up to get sexually assaulted, lining up to pay predatory fees, and then suffering many hours on a dirty plane in sardines-in-a-box seating plan are main concerns.

    If the problems above solved, I would gladly register using CLI, if necessary.
  • Re:Sigh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:21PM (#47494715)

    "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch that people had when checking in at a traditional manned counter,"

    So we're going to take away the last humans and replace them with mindless robots.

    It's a self-service check-in, it's already a mindless robot.

    Though I fail to see how replacing the dumb kiosk with a more intelligent avatar will really make anything better, I don't really want the kiosk to ask me how my day is going, or tell me I better bundle up because it's going to be a cold day in Chicago, I just want to check in as quickly and easily as possible.

  • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:35PM (#47494813)
    Natural communication? In a crowded airport with a machine? Pull the other one, it squeaks.

    Artificial intelligence is nowhere near good enough to translate "I want an isle seat for my son and TIMMY STOP POKING YOUR SISTER, sorry, An isle seat for my son and I have a Delta flight from Dallas, can you make sure it will arrive in time to connect?" That's the kind of thing human attendants can cope with easily. The best kind of interface for ticketing is an unintelligent wizard on a touch screen with big icons and a "help" button for an attendant.
  • Re:nice job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:40PM (#47494847) Homepage

    I don't think the OPs point was that the waits for check in and security are such that the miracle that is manned flight has been wasted upon us. Rather that if we are going to spend money (and yes any cost comes from tickets, so it's a collective we that will pay for this) perhaps there are other parts of the airport experience that would deliver a better return.

    Frankly when I have been able to use automated check in, the existing terminals have been pretty clear and efficient. They're certainly not the most stressful part of the flying experience.

  • by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:48PM (#47494889)
    The human is the weak link in the check in chain. The self check in terminals are fine, but fat lot of good it does when i still have to stand in a huge line just to have the human behind the desk put a sticker on my checked baggage. WTF is that about? weighing? certainly a scale could be present at the terminal, and until computer vision is reliable enough, a human could simply watch to make sure people arent just pretending to weigh their 80lbs luggage. Bombs? i thought that's what the TSA is for. Clearly the staff checking your ID is not the biggest stopgap in preventing bombs on board. Why can't the terminal simply spit out my baggage sticker for myself to put on?
  • by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @01:42PM (#47495185)

    So is this basically clippy for checkin terminals?

  • Re:nice job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @02:05PM (#47495321) Journal
    Aside from all that, it isn't clear why adding a shallow emulation of a talking human head is even going to improve the terminal experience:

    If you are dealing with a routine matter, you aren't really trying to convey that much data (and none of the data you are trying to convey are subtly emotionally nuanced or anything, it's basically an "I want to be on this flight, ideally in this seat, here's the billing info" operation, not a sonnet) and existing text and graphic based interfaces, while often questionably thought out, are at least as competent as a natural-language dialog for anyone who isn't illiterate or otherwise handicapped.

    If something or someone is fucked up and/or deeply confused, the computer won't be able to help you because it will just format and present the garbage you are trying to sort out. You need someone who can understand an edge case or error and has the power to give a good hard shove to whatever fields aren't cooperating.

    I'd bet nontrivial money that the effect of this 'advance' will be to make the experience worse: The licensing fees will be calibrated to be lower than human salaries; but the underlying system will still be far dumber and less flexible than the humans who it will replace (because why do we need so many desk staff now that our kiosks are so user friendly!?); so users whose problems were already solved will have, at best, a slightly more pleasant interaction, and the users with real problems will have to wait in a longer line for a more harried human to fix it.

    We all know how totally peachy-keen 'interactive voice recognition' systems have made interacting with call centers, and this is basically the same old shit with an animated face.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith