Virgin Atlantic trials Google Glass at check-in desks

By Danny Palmer
11 Feb 2014 View Comments
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Virgin Atlantic has begun trialling Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch wearable technology in an effort to improve customer service for its airline passengers.

The trial, organised in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first of its kind and is designed to improve passenger experience with a more efficient service. Check-in staff wearing Google Glass or a Sony Smartwatch 2 will be able to update passengers about flight information, weather and information about traveller destinations.

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The scheme will see Virgin Atlantic trial the technology at its Upper Class Wing premium entrance at Heathrow Airport, with Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch 2 testing purpose-built applications by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system.

Benefits to passengers and the business will be evaluated throughout the six-week trial, ahead of any decision to further roll out the wearable technology at the airline.

"While it's fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers," said Dave Bulman, director of IT for Virgin Atlantic.

"Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic's long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.

"We continue to look ahead and research innovations that customers might only dream of today. The whole industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for, and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel. Flying should be a pleasure, not a chore," Bulman concluded.

Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, argued that this year is going to be a big one for the likes of Google Glass, and the organisation is pleased to be working with Virgin Atlantic in trialling the technology.

"2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality," he said.

SITA's strategic technology research group, SITA Lab, has been testing wearable technology and developing applications with a focus on airlines and airports since 2013.

"At SITA Lab, we've taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it has been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry's first wearable technology application," said Peters.

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