NPR logo

Meet John and Julie: Holograms Beamed Into The Manchester Airport

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133472602/133472332" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Meet John and Julie: Holograms Beamed Into The Manchester Airport

International

Meet John and Julie: Holograms Beamed Into The Manchester Airport

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133472602/133472332" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

At the airport in Manchester, England, two new employees have started work at the entrance to the security line: They are Julie and John. And they are holograms. Should passengers forget to throw away that souvenir bottle of Boddington's bitter or a carry-on hand lotion that's just over the limit of 100 milliliters, the Manchester airport has decided regular old security attendants don't do the trick? So one week ago, they added these two holograms of real employees to remind passengers of the liquid restrictions.

Russell Craig is the spokesman for the Manchester Airport and joins us from the airport. Welcome to the program.

Mr. RUSSELL CRAIG (Spokesman, Manchester Airport): Thank you.

SIEGEL: And you're real, aren't you?

Mr. CRAIG: As far as I know. I feel real.

SIEGEL: OK. Tell us about the idea of placing holograms at the airport.

Mr. CRAIG: Well, of course, you have to go back to August, 2006, when the liquid restrictions suddenly came into force overnight and caused a huge amount of confusion.

We've tried a number of things, from posters, from leaflets, from real staff being there to remind people. Even last summer, we had people dressed as giant bottles of water.

You know, they all have varying degrees of success, but we got in touch with a company who we'd seen their holograms, and we thought that sounds interesting. It sounds eye-catching. Let's give it a try.

SIEGEL: Tell us what we would see as we walk in. Let's focus on Julie here for a moment. You walk in, and there is - actually, this is a two-dimensional hologram of your employee Julie.

Mr. CRAIG: It is. There's variations of technology available. We've gone for the most basic, just to test it out at this stage. And as you walk towards the main security search area, you'll see Julie standing there, basically running through a 13-, 14-second script.

And we're only a week in, but we're seeing some incredible results. Crowds are gathering around her because they're so amazed at how lifelike she is.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Of course, the odd thing about a hologram is - this is Julie Capper is actually the name of the employee who is pictured here. She has an expression, kind of arched eyebrows, a look of - almost an inquisitive look. And it will ever be thus. She will always look like that in the hologram.

Mr. CRAIG: She will, she will. And I have to say I wasn't there when she recorded it, but I believe Julie took about 50 takes. So I think Julie is quite happy with her expression, even after having to listen to herself all week because Julie actually works on the area, bizarrely, where her hologram is.

SIEGEL: I see. So one could see both three-dimensional and two-dimensional Julies on some days.

Mr. CRAIG: That's right. And we've seen some real confusion. In fact, on the first day, last Friday, when we unveiled the holograms, an old guy walked up to Julie's hologram and obviously thought it was the real Julie, handed her his passport. And of course when she didn't respond, he looked very annoyed that he was being ignored and then suddenly realized what happened and kind of shuffled off to see the real Julie.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Now does the real Julie, or for that matter the real John, do they get any overtime pay for being up in hologramatic form all the time?

Mr. CRAIG: It's one of the benefits of hologramatic staff, of course, is they don't go sick, they don't complain. They just carry on doing what they do. But what Julie and John have found as a benefit from this is quite a lot of fame and attention.

SIEGEL: Yes, I bet. Now, how re-programmable are these? If the requirements were to change, or if there were new substances you couldn't take on or could take on, could you easily change the message that Julie and John are giving as holograms?

Mr. CRAIG: Very, very easy to do. We've got the recording technology. So we just ask them to re-record something else, whatever that might be. So that they're in permanent secure employment.

SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Craig, thank you very much for talking with us about it.

Mr. CRAIG: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Russell Craig, who is spokesman for the Manchester International Airport in England, which has installed holograms of two real employees at one of their security checkpoints.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.