Airline's Google Glass trial hopes to put the glamour back into air travel

Summary:Virgin Atlantic is using Google Glass and a Sony smartwatch as part of concierge service for business and first class passengers flying from London.

Virgin Atlantic is testing the use of Google Glass and Sony smartwatches as part of an effort to put the glamour back into air travel.

The wearable devices will be used to as part of the service for customers travelling to the 'Upper Class Wing', the airline's entrance at London Heathrow's Terminal 3 for first and business-class passengers.

Airline staff will be equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2 which are connected to the concierge dispatch app and Virgin's passenger service system. The apps will send passenger information directly to the concierge's smart glasses or watch as the passenger arrives, and staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination.

The airline said that in future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers' dietary and refreshment preferences.

Virgin said that uring the six week pilot project, benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.

As air travel has become more common, it's also become a more humdrum experience. Half of British travellers say flying is less glamorous than it used to be, according to Virgin Atlantic's research, and the airline said there is a "clear opportunity for innovations in technology to turn this around".

Virgin Atlantic is also testing Apple's iBeacon service with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow. The low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS devices of nearby services and deliver updates on their flight boarding schedules.

While still something of a spectacle, smart glasses are at best an emerging technology — less than one percent of companies are using them (Google Glass for example is still in its invite only 'Explorer' phase) but analysts predict that up to one in ten organisations may have given smart glasses to some staff within the next five years.

The industries that are likely to experience the greatest benefit from smartglasses are those such as manufacturing, retail or healthcare, or those with engineers or inspectors who can use the augmented reality and recording capabilities.

The New York Police Department has also bought Google Glass units to see if the networked headsets could be useful for officers on patrol.

Further reading

Topics: Mobility, Emerging Tech, United Kingdom

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, and has been writing about technology, business and culture for more than a decade. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.