Remember that scene from Minority Report, when Tom Cruise walked into The Gap and was immediately addressed by a hologram? It seemed pretty far-fetched at the time, but a similar type of help actually just kicked off for travelers going through the New York City metro area airports.

While not exactly a hologram, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's latest customer-service initiative is close. It put in a set of installations that feature interactive videos projected onto a female-shaped plexiglass form at Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports on Monday. Like Paris's Orly airport, which got one of these babies last year, these airports (along with JFK) will use the avatar to guide passengers to their gates, explain security checkpoint rules and even hype the duty-free stores.

Here's a demo taken at a trade show. Do your best to ignore the double entendre of this flirty lady's sales shpiel, which is… uh… kind of distracting (and a little disturbing).

According to The Wall Street Journal, this is Port Authority's answer to a customer-satisfaction survey that indicated people wanted more human interaction. So, of course, instead of hiring people, it decided to install these "holograms" across its airports, renting them for $180,000 for the next six months. (Wouldn't it just have been cheaper to hire people who could actually answer non scripted questions?)

Well, if it actually does help reduce confusion (and therefore, passenger congestion) at the airport, then maybe it's all for the good.

Have you come across one of these installations? Does this look like the future of advertising/customer service to you?

[via The Wall Street Journal]