Landing at Edinburgh always makes me tearful. That’s partially because most of the approach is over the ocean, and you’re on the ground barely a minute after calling “feet dry” (over land). I still don’t like flying over water at low level. Partially because I hope to be hearing bagpipes and partially because I am closer to home than is usual. And if I fly to Edinburgh between now and the New Year, I’m likely to be seeing somebody wearing Google Glass as the airport is trialling the wearable technology. Edinburgh Airport Chief Executive, Gordon Dewar, said, “The fact it’s the first trial of its kind in a UK airport is exciting, as it shows we are leading the way in how we interact with our passengers. Over the next few months we’ll be able to establish whether this product is suitable for an airport environment.” The trial involves customer service check-in representatives using Google Glass and we can imagine that this may include translating documents, looking up up-to-the-minute flight information and answering general questions from airport visitors.
Google Glass is a wearable piece of technology that projects imagery in front of your eye rather than using a conventional screen. In terms of components, it consists of a dual core Texas Instruments OMAP processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 2,100 mAh battery. It’s controlled through a mix of voice command, a touchpad and the MyGlass application for iPhone or Android smartphones. Glass has a number of sensors including a microphone, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, ambient light and proximity. It has built-in GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. It is able to take pictures and videos at 720p resolution. However, it’s the software that makes Glass special; most of Glass can be used hands free. You can ask it for directions, tell it to set up a Hangout with colleagues or loved ones via a data connection provided from your smartphone. Plus as you would expect from a Google product, Glass integrates with other products and services including Google Maps, Google+, Gmail and Google Now. There are many third party applications available for Google Glass including Evernote, Skitch, facial recognition and image manipulation, translation and social networking. Google Glass will also integrate with Android Wear devices, too. We don’t know if Edinburgh Airport is using a custom application with Google Glass or not.
The Chief Executive chose his words carefully because earlier in the year, Virgin Atlantic equipped their first class concierge staff at London Heathrow International Airport with Google Glass during a six week trial that they report went very well. The advantage of a device such as Google Glass is that the technology is hands free, voice controlled and with the right software, should be able to provide a relatively inexperienced member of staff with the knowledge and insight of a seasoned veteran. However, Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest and over nine million passengers passed through it last year – this is a much more intense test of Glass compared with the Virgin’s First Class Concierge service.