Virtual Boarding Agents: The New Airport Frontier?

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Francois Mori / AP

Paris’ Orly Airport began testing 2-D holograms to replace real-life boarding agents. Take that, CNN!

Since the original Star Wars films were released in the ’70s, geeks everywhere have pined over how to replicate the holographic appearance of a person. During the 2008 presidential election, CNN did it — with mixed response. Now, Orly Airport in Paris is using the technology to have virtual avatars direct people to their boarding gates. (Similar virtual agents have been in use in airports in London and Manchester since earlier this year.)

(MORE: A Brief History of Holograms)

Sadly, the “force” used to project these images really just starts with the push of a button. The prerecorded film of one of three boarding agents then gets rear-projected onto a plexiglass surface, telling passengers to proceed to their respective gates. The technology behind the images was developed by a Paris audiovisual marketing agency, L’Oeil du Chat.

Travelers are mostly amused by the contraption, while Cedric Olivier, an Air France pilot, told the Associated Press he thinks it’s downright creepy. “It spooks me the way his eyes seem to follow you.”

Frances Romero is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @frances_romero or on Tumblr. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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