Virgin Atlantic takes Google Glass on test flight

By on February 12, 2014
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Global Airline, Virgin Atlantic, is testing the functionality of wearable technology with its first class passengers at Heathrow.

Where Sir Richard Branson goes, others follow. Or at least that’s what Virgin Atlantic is hoping, as it becomes the first airline to test out Google Glass and other wearable technology on first class customers.

For the next six weeks, concierges in the nerd glasses will greet Virgin passengers who rock up at Heathrow in limos and start checking them in. Through the glasses, the concierges will be able to provide the passengers with flight information, weather updates, goings-on at their destination, and translating anything in a foreign language.

In future, wearable tech could also tell flight staff passengers’ food and drink preferences the airline said in a statement. What’s next – Ryanair using Google Glass instead of a co-pilot?

Virgin is also testing iBeacon with its first class customers, a Bluetooth transmitter that tells nearby Apple iOS devices of discounts, updates on boarding and other useful bits that make a flyer’s world go round. At this stage, the gadgetry seems more geared towards making life easier for Virgin’s staff, who probably have to have all that information to hand anyway, rather than their already-pampered passengers.

The airline has always tried to be first in line for new technology, allowing mobile phones to be switched on on board in 2011 and rolling out 3G. It’s also currently testing wifi on its planes.

However, before we economy class rabble get too excited about futuristic flying in the near future, Virgin brought us back down to earth with a bump – this one’s only for the one percent. “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,” says Virgin Atlantic’s IT director Dave Bulman.

That’s right – the super-rich aren’t the only ones trapped in a tin can at 30 000 feet, no matter how much wearable tech you throw at them.

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