Virtual Assistant Says "Hola" at Boston's Logan Airport

A virtual assistant at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland.

A virtual assistant at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland.  (Photo via Flickr/toolmantim)

Passengers passing through the security checkpoint at Terminal E of Boston's Logan International Airport will now be given instruction by Carla, a life-sized 3-D video projection. However, Carla isn't the first of her kind – many other hologram-like installations can be found all over Europe and beyond, including airports in England, Germany, Scotland, and the United Arab Emirates.

A virtual assistant at Dulles International Airport which serves the Washington, D.C. area, stands at the international terminal and helps travelers navigate through customs – her name is Paige and she has the honor of being the first such virtual assistant in the United States. Paige has been installed at Dulles on a three-month trial basis since April and it will then be decided whether she'll stay permanently.

While Paige is on customs duty at Dulles, Carla works a Logan Airport security checkpoint. Carla's task is to help make checking through security easier on both passengers and airport personnel. "If you have liquid items over 3.4 ounces, you'll need to return to the ticket counter," Carla says, and then instructs them to remove their shoes before the inspection process.

Numerous signs instruct passengers to do the same, but Ed Freni, the Director of Aviation at Logan Airport explains why he thinks Carla might work better.

 "The number of signs that we have out are somewhat ineffective at times because it’s just overwhelming," said Freni. "And I think this is an attention-getting process, and I think it remains to be seen. We hope it works."

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It's estimated that 6,000 people per day will pass by Carla and many of them will be native Spanish-speakers. For this reason, Carla is bilingual – giving her instructions in both Spanish and English.

Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of


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