The friendly skies are about to get a little more high-tech.
Virgin Atlantic on Tuesday began testing Google Glass and other wearable computing technologies as part of a six-week pilot program at London Heathrow airport aimed at improving customer service, the airline announced. Concierge staff in the airline’s upper class wing will be using the devices to update passengers on their fight information and weather, provide details about local events at their destination, as well as translate foreign language information.
“From the minute upper class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process,” the company said in a statement. “In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences — anything that provides a better and more personalized service.”
to make flying sexy again. The company on Tuesday released a study, which found that the flying experience has gone down in recent decades, even as the number of people traveling by plane has “skyrocketed.” In the study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world, 42 percent said that flying is less glamorous than it used to be.
The new wearable computing trial in London comes as California-based Virgin America is also making moves to improve the flying experience with technology. The company on Tuesday announced plans to launch what it calls the first in-flight social network, which allows flyers to connect with fellow business travelers at 35,000 feet.
Before you take off, you’ll need to download a free iOS app called Here on Biz, which will let you connect with other guests on your flight, those on other planes in the air, and fellow travelers at your destination. The technology will be rolling out on all domestic Virgin America flights by the end of the month, and you can access the app through Virgin American’s Gogo network for free through July 2014.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablets were also cleared for takeoff this week. The software giant announced that Surface 2 tablets have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for pilots’ use during all phases of flight.
And airlines aren’t the only organizations getting more tech-savvy. The New York Police Department is also currently testing Google Glass to see if it could be useful for officers on patrol, according to VentureBeat. The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.