The future of wearable tech might just have started today: Virgin Atlantic has embarked on a pilot programme that’ll use Google Glass to make its passengers’ journey better.
Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class wing will use wearable tech to speed up check-ins, to update passengers of any flight changes, exciting weather developments or interesting events at their destination, and to translate between different languages.
In the future Glass might display dietary preferences, and in the event of Airplane!-style emergency it might identify anyone who didn’t have the fish for dinner and show them how to land the plane.
This isn’t the first Glass-themed idea Virgin has had – last year it kidded everyone that it had built the world’s first glass-bottomed plane – but is it any more sensible?
Virgin’s move is a gimmick, of course, but Google Glass does fit rather well on a steward’s face – and it has applications in other bits of an airport too, from security staff to the engineers that keep everything flying.
Wearable tech has obvious benefits in any kind of job where people need information in front of their face, and where those people can’t or won’t spend lots of time in front of traditional screens: doctors accessing patient charts.
Aerospace engineers accessing blueprints. Mechanics referring to manufacturers’ recommended tolerances. Maybe delivery, bus and taxi drivers too, assuming the specs don’t prove to be a distraction.
I suspect that the "woo! Skydiving!" marketing for wearables we’ve seen so far is rather misleading, because wearable tech such as Glass is more likely to be successful in niche markets before gain real success in the wider consumer sphere.
Remote monitoring of important machinery looks crap in an ad, but it’s a pretty clever and useful thing to do; similarly surgeons beaming first-person footage to medical students or maintenance workers being able to see the layout of electrical wiring or heating ducts could prove to be genuinely useful applications.
What’s interesting about that, of course, is that such uses will make wearables like the Windows PCs of yore: the kit you associate with boring stuff you do in your day job.
If we’re strutting around wearing Glass all day, will we still want to wear it when we get home?
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