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Avatar named 'Ava' installed at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK to help passengers

An avatar will soon be operational at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports to provide information and advice to passengers and other airport users.

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Screenshot from the video of a demonstration of "Ava," the New York Port Authority's new passenger information device. (YouTube/Screengrab)

An avatar will soon to be installed at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports to provide information and advice to passengers and other airport users.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's latest high-tech venture, a life-size virtual passenger information agent named "Ava," works around the clock without charging overtime, doesn’t take bathroom breaks, and needs no background check, according to NorthJersey.com.

“And I look pretty good, too," the news site quoted the avatar, projected onto a female-shaped glass pane, as saying during a presentation on Monday.

Such devices cost about $250,000 each, although the Port Authority is renting them for about $180,000 for six months, according to the Associated Press.

The Authority also unveiled new airport apps and dozens of new information kiosks and electronic device charging stations to help travelers.

Meanwhile, Ava will dispense flight information and tips about services like shuttle bus and taxi pick-ups, and the locations of bathrooms.

The avatar activates when a customer approaches, WNYC News reported.

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The service kiosk was also capable of answering spoken questions, Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni said.

It is programmed to recognize and respond to passengers’ most frequently-asked questions, he said.

Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said the avatar was meant to supplement the airport’s 350 flesh-and-blood customer representatives, who would soon be joined by 70 new hires. 

More than 100 million travelers pass through the three airports annually, according to the Port Authority.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120522/avatar-newark-laguardia-jfk-flight-information-new-york-travel