A hat tip to the sales guys who managed to get the New York Port Authority to drop $180K on those eternally stupid Talking Flat Lady things for use at the city’s three main airports.
ABC News says the devices were unveiled this week at Newark Liberty and La Guardia airports, and JFK will also have the virtual mannequin things.
The Port Authority is said to be renting them for about $180,000 for six months. One report suggests each unit is worth $250K, which I can’t fathom being accurate. It’s a projector, some Vikuiti film and a speaker all packaged up together as one.
The decision was made to use the things based on traveler intercept surveys. “One of the things people said in the surveys was that they wanted more human interaction,” said an airport official.
The only way to make the experience better at La Guardia would be to bulldoze it, and the same could be said for things like the Delta terminal at JFK. $30K a month could pay some actual humans to provide actual interaction.
The virtual mannequin thing was interesting when it was first done almost four years ago, but is getting old and is purely a short-term novelty thing. I’ve got nothing but admiration for the people successfully selling it, and nothing but rolled eyes for the people who think the technology is effective and actually addresses real operating issues like overcrowded, chaotic airport concourses.
If they really do get $250K selling these units, these sales guys are masters of the universe.
A separate story suggests the units are more like $60K each, which makes more sense but is still crazy high.
I really like the 3M projection film and some of the applications of it, but these things just defy business logic.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.