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Commentary & Analysis

Digital Signage Assistants


By Richard Romano
Published: May 20, 2015

We’re seeing digital signage turn up more and more places, but increasingly it’s not just about creating eye-catching displays. It’s also about providing useful information, taking wayfinding to the next level. Case in point: the digital signage assistants that have begun to appear in airports:

the original Tensator Virtual Assistants, which create the illusion of a real person, have been seen by 16.2 million departing passengers, all of which have been given the opportunity to hear and see the airport's message about items not allowed in hand luggage. This, combined with a host of other security measures, has helped to reduce the number of bags rejected by security by 12 percent, speeding up the security process, the company said.

These Virtual Assistants debuted in 2011 at London’s Luton Airport, and have gradually been deployed at airports from Boston to Madrid.

Two new units, the “Ultra” model, have been installed at Luton. One advises passengers on what is prohibited in carry-on luggage (liquids, e.g.) and how to prepare those items that are permitted. The second, further along in the security area, reminds passengers to remove their coats and belts and empty their pockets.

“We’re firm believers that technology shouldn't be used just for the sake of it. It needs to produce tangible benefits for both staff and passengers alike," Tensator Group CEO Ben Gale said.

The next technology challenge: how the TSA can use digital signage to grope and paw at passengers.  

Richard Romano is Managing Editor of WhatTheyThink | Printing News & Wide-Format & Signage.  He curates the Wide Format section on WhatTheyThink.com. He has been writing about the graphic communications industry for more than 25 years. He is the author or coauthor of more than half a dozen books on printing technology and business. His most recent book is “Beyond Paper: An Interactive Guide to Wide-Format and Specialty Printing.


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