by Matt Alderton | February 14, 2014
By now, you’ve probably heard of Google Glass. A wearable computer, it consists of a small camera, video recorder and data display mounted to a pair of lens-less glasses that give hands-free access to a smartphone-like interface. The voice-augmented monitor — which sits just above the right eye — layers data over the physical world, integrating it into the wearer’s vision. It’s straight up George Jetson.
Since it was first announced in 2011, Google Glass has been more “rumors” than “reality.” Now, however, the technology is finally taking off — literally, according to British airline Virgin Atlantic, which announced this week that it will be the first airline to test Google Glass technology.

Virgin Atlantic staff began wearing Google Glasses on Tuesday. First-class passengers will encounter the technology when they first check in at London’s Heathrow airport; there, concierge staff will use Google Glass to access passengers’ information so they can greet them by name, give them their latest flight information, translate any foreign language information, and update them on events and weather in their destination. Eventually, the airline says, the technology could also tell flight attendants passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences.

“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,” Virgin Atlantic Director of IT Dave Bulman said in a statement. “By being the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve customer experience, we are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”

Air-transport specialist SITA is helping Virgin Atlantic test not only Google Glass, but also other wearable technologies. Ultimately, it’s hoped that such devices will help the airline deliver better and more personalized service.

“Many of our passengers now use their mobiles on board, particularly to send emails or check Facebook,” Bulman continued. “We continue to look ahead and research innovations that customers might only dream of today. The whole industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for, and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel. Flying should be a pleasure not a chore.”

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