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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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  • Sigh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:08PM (#47494611) Homepage

    "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.

    Well done.

    Certainly aced that one.

    (As an aside, I've just come through London Stansted including an extra hour in the security queues which went all the way back to the gate when you come off the plane, and I spent much of it yelling and attracting the attention of people around me - my primary beef was that the humans had no humanity, nobody had bothered to go down the line, tell us what we were waiting for, how long it was expected to take, what they could do for special cases - young children, disabled passengers, elderly passengers unable to stand in queue, etc. - or would even bother to do anything to help or give answers.

    And when we got to the front, all the "electronic passport" aisles were gone and only the manned aisles were left. I know why they were removed - nobody uses them. They are too much a faff, you can't take children through them, if you're travelling with someone with a non-chipped passport, you have to separate and then wait (hope) blindly for each other on the other side, etc. so even when they were opened, less than 1% of the people there ever used them.

    Sorry, if you want the human touch, you have to put humans in there AND then listen to the humans queuing alongside them AND then let those humans sort each other's problems out. Reliance on machines? When I got to the long-stay car park to retrieve my car, it wouldn't let my (immaculately preserved) ticket through two different barriers, so I had to press the button and get someone to let me out, costing me another 10 minutes. Thank god that wasn't my passport at the end of a hour-long queue.

  • The human touch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @12:13PM (#47494647)

    Thanks to a prosthetic knee, I get the "human touch" every time I fly. That's after a trip through the pornscanner and taking out all of my electronics and startingt them up, of course.

    As for the kiosks -- if you know what you're doing, the last thing that you need is the kind of condescending "help" that gets in the way of getting your freaking boarding pass.

  • Re:Sigh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @01:09PM (#47495011)

    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.


    Using some supposedly intelligent avatar instead of a clear, simple, and well designed UI ranks right up there with the automated call interfaces that ask you to speak your answers instead of pressing the number buttons on your phone. People complained because pushing numbers sucked; RCA was incorrect; we ended up with a system 10x's as frustrating that takes 3x's longer to operate.

    I've found the self-service check-in's to be rather good, but the physical integration of them has left a lot to be desired. IE. there is no line for them.. there's just a bunch of them scattered about. Then you still have to take your bags somewhere, and figuring out where that line is, and how it differs from the line that includes getting your ticket, is often a complete mess. You often have to wade back through all the folks wandering around the kiosks to find the front of the new line. It should be a LOT simpler and organized much better... though I'm sure this is a per-airport, and possibly per-airline, issue, so YMMV.

  • Re:nice job (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @02:16PM (#47495367) Journal
    The trouble with progress as a cure for stress is twofold:

    One, expectations tend to grow as fast, sometimes faster, than capabilities. Unless you are traveling without any connecting flights and on a very leisurely schedule, everyone's assumptions about where you'll be and when will be calibrated to 'your flight; but on time', so delays that would have faded into the noise historically will now throw you off.

    Perhaps more fundamentally it appears to be the powerlessness rather than the absolute time that stresses people out, and being at the mercy of complex systems run by other people is beautifully designed to rub your face in powerlessness. Technology has, of course, increased our absolute level of power by chiseling away at the domain of 'nope, go try placating the spirits or something'; but all those places where it used to be that nobody had any control, now somebody; but not you, has control and you can't quite shake the impression that they are jerking you around.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.