Wearable technology has become the new buzzword in the technology industry but does this new breed of smart technology have any place in the travel industry?
The term refers to electronic technologies that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can be worn on the body. Over the last couple of years we have seen the launch of Google Glass and “smart watches” by brands like Apple and Samsung and gadgets like Fitbit which track your health and fitness. Many of us are guilty of thinking this is just something for gadget lovers rather than something we will wear and use for everyday activities.
At the recent World Travel Market in London, global technology firm Sabre, told delegates that this kind of technology could become mainstream in the not so distant future. TripCase, which is a travel itinerary management app, is claiming to be the first travel app of its kind to integrate with the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The integration would allow travellers to receive alerts, real-time flight information including gate changes ensuring they are completely up to the minute. But with many airlines adopting smart technology into the boarding process do we really need to buy add more technology to our person?
Last year Virgin Atlantic became the first to use Google Glass at London Heathrow Airport. Concierge staff in the airlines Upper Class wing started a 4 week pilot scheme in February 2014 to use the wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalised customer service. As Upper Class passengers arrive at the airport they are greeted by name and staff can immediately update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination. Not only will adopting this technology enhance the customer experience but it also aims to cut check in times as staff use headsets to scan passports. The trial was a success and is now a permanent fixture at T3.
Edinburgh Airport became the first airport in the UK at the end of last year to trial Google Glass for its staff. The headsets can be used to provide travellers with flight information, answer queries and even translate into foreign languages. The airport is leading the way in using this kind of technology and this could be something we could see in airports across the world in the future.
Spanish airline Iberia and German airline Air Berlin announced tie ups with Samsung and Pebble respectively to allow passengers to put boarding passes on your watch. The new advancement allows passengers to send boarding passes from your smartphone to your smartwatch and displays gate number, departure time and seat. Travellers can simply flash their boarding passes at the gate rather than dig out a boarding pass or open the boarding pass on their phone.
It has been possible for some time to simply flash your boarding pass on your smartphone with airlines like British Airways, but this is seen as an even quicker or more convenient way for travellers to board an aircraft.
As we can see, many organisations in the travel industry are focusing on wearable technology and it looks like a trend that will continue to grow as they look to enhance the passenger experience and cut waiting times.