Virgin Atlantic eyes up Google Glass through new trial

Airline's concierge staff at London Heathrow to trial Google's device over the next six weeks

Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic revealed today that it is trialling Google Glass devices among its staff to see how the technology could be used to improve the experience of the airline's highest-paying passengers.

The Google Glass spectacles include a small screen that can be used to deliver apps, directions, social media streams and web pages just above the right eye. The wearable computer also allows wearers to take a picture, record a video and read messages.

Over the next six weeks, concierge staff working in Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow's Terminal 3 will aim to use Google Glass to check-in customers and provide them with flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information.

In order to make this possible, Virgin Atlantic has integrated Google Glass with a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system.

The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It also pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge's smart glasses just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.

Virgin Atlantic said Google Glass also has the potential to tell staff their passengers' dietary and refreshment preferences.

The airline is also trialling Sony's SmartWatch 2 over the same six week time period.

Dave Bulmad, Virgin Atlantic IT director, said: "The fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers. By being the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve customer experience we are...putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.

Google Glass and other wearables are being trialled by an increasing number of businesses, including the New York Police Department, which said last week that it was investigating whether the technology could be used to help enforce the law.

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