Virgin Airlines recently ran a six-week test using Google Glass and Sony smartwatches to test the potential impact of wearables in the airline industry. Virgin worked with airline industry IT provider SITA Labs to build out the test.
The principal aim of the test is to discover if wearables can improve upon the experience in airports, and enhance airlines’ existing processes. In a talk at the Wearable Technology Show in London this past March, Virgin Innovation IT Manager Tim Graham spoke about the findings to date in the yet-to-finalize study.
The test run of the devices was used only in the upper class wing of the airline at London’s Heathrow Airport. Passengers would check in curbside and their information, ranging from flight schedule, boarding information, and car service requirements were sent to Virgin attendants throughout the airport via Google Glass and Sony smartwatches. A principal goal was to reduce the amount of time that attendants had to step behind a desk to locate passenger information and thus lose eye contact during these pivotal customer service touchpoints.
Findings to date showed that customers were concerned with privacy matters and were curious as to what data was being pulled. Virgin has told customers and media alike that no personal travel information is being shared outside of the airline and its customers. The Virgin employees appeared to have enjoyed the devices, adding it reduced inefficient paperwork and use of radios, and that they are comfortable to wear. The devices’ batteries lasted full 8-10 hour shifts, which was a pivotal concern. Virgin did experience connectivity issues using Bluetooth technology to communicate to smartphones, but found improved results once switching over to wifi.
Check out more on the study at the Virgin Atlantic site.