SA Airport debuts new virtual helper

Avatar "Eva" to help guide passengers through security checkpoints

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio International Airport has debuted a new, hologram-like virtual helper for passengers waiting in security check-in lines.

On Wednesday morning, the airport introduced two avatars in Terminal A.

The projected video images, named Eva, are activated when passengers approach their human-shaped figures in the general line near security checkpoints and in precheck lanes, and help to expedite the TSA screening process.

"We're one of the first airports, if not the first airport, to have an avatar like Eva in the precheck lane for the TSA," San Antonio Airport Systems Director Frank R. Miller said. "The reason for that is that a lot of people who aren't familiar with the TSA and the precheck protocols don't realize that they don't have to take off their shoes or their jackets. So the avatar in precheck, that's the information she's putting out."

The avatars, which speak both English and Spanish, are the result of a program the airport implemented some months ago to make the security check-in process faster.

The avatars play an active role in engaging passengers who might not stop to read informational signs.

"I've seen people walk right by a sign for precheck, as an example, and they do everything that they don't have to do. With Eva, yeah, it is something new. It's different. People will stop, take a look at it, and it helps them to focus on the fact that you're getting closer to the screening checkpoint," Miller said.

As for how people will react to Eva, Miller said the airport has already received mixed reviews.

"As we've heard, it's cool. Some people think it's creepy. But it's a way that people are now focused on an image that is telling them how much easier it is -- or how it can be easier -- to get through the screening checkpoint," Miller said.

Miller said the airport is focusing on Terminal A right now, but he would not rule out another Eva for Terminal B in the future.

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