Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Once again I was down in London the other day and had the pleasure of going through Kings Cross Station. Now I like the station and love what the architects have done with the front portico and waiting areas. It’s no St Pancras yet it is still an exciting place for me to be. For me the railway architecture of London is a small island of pleasure in a sea of enmity.
I’d been to a meeting in Westminster and got back to the station with some time to spare. To save money we book ourselves on fixed time trains. I was with a couple of colleagues and we decided to go up onto the mezzanine to get a bite to eat. That’s when I came across the strangest of things.
At the bottom of the escalator was a piece of white wood cut into a human shape. Onto this was projected an image of a young woman wearing a uniform that was non-threatening. It was set up in a way that made it look like a hologram. ‘She’ was standing behind an official looking lectern and at first take it all looked very real.
She was there to give a message. There was a small film on a loop that reminded passengers and visitors that they should not take luggage onto the escalator. It was all cleverly done though. She started the loop with some hand gestures that hooked the onlooker in. Her mannerisms and body language made it look like she was engaging with you and you alone.
It was eye-catching but odd, very odd.
It made me think. Was it useful or not? When I got back home I had a quick search on the internet to see what other people thought. I typed in ‘hologram King’s Cross’ and ‘weird’ was the predominant word that came back.
Now I have no idea how successful a campaign this has been for Network Rail. I have no notion of how many escalator related accidents they have had involving inappropriate luggage handling or how long these holograms have been in place. I cannot judge therefore whether there has been a reduction in such incidents yet the company clearly felt it was a sufficiently important issue to merit investment in the talking images.
What I can do though is to judge my own response to it and to give my impression of its effectiveness. I am in a quandary. Part of me thinks that it is an unnecessary investment of money, a gimmick, a palliative to look like something is being done and an example of where technology is used that adds no benefit over a more traditional analogue solution.
Another part of me however is wondering if this is the case why did I take the effort to investigate it further and why am I writing a blog about it? Why have I given it so much thinking time? I’ve even used it in a presentation. Oscar Wilde said that ‘There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about’.
Perhaps because you can then you should.