Virgin Atlantic launches wearable technology to enhance the passenger experience

Virgin Atlantic, in partnership with air transport IT specialist SITA, is aiming to improve passengers’ travel experiences and efficiency by being the first to introduce Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology at London Heathrow airport.

During the six-week pilot scheme, passengers are to be greeted by the airline’s concierge staff in the Upper Class Wing who will be using wearable technology to deliver a personalised customer service, including the check-in process, latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. The technology is being developed so that in the future Virgin Atlantic staff can also gain information on their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences.
The new technology is being introduced as Virgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel. The results claim to show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened.
Airline staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both 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 pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.
“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,” commented Dave Bulman, Director of IT, 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.“
“2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality,” said Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA. “At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”

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