As one of the privileged few to be given a pair of Google Glass
to play with earlier this year, SITA Lab
did not sit on its hands.
Instead, the research arm of air transport IT specialist SITA
, thought how Google Glass specifically and wearable technology in general might improve the overall airport experience.
Today the organisation publishes its report on wearable technology and how it could completely change how we interact with information.
The headline finding is that there's lots of potential, Credit Suisse estimates a $50bn market
in three to five years, but quite a few elements need to fall into place.
That said, SITA Lab used Google Glass and Vuzix M100
to develop SWIFT Boarding which using the built in scanner and the heads-up display enables gate staff to simultaneously verify boarding passes and passports.
The conclusion - although it worked, the tech is not fast enough for the sorts of volumes involved in passenger processing but there are other potential applications:
- tablets, used by roving airport staff or at lounge entrances, could be swapped for wearable tech
- customer services such as real-time translation using voice recognition
- scanning of bag tags to help with mislaid luggage
- alerts/notifications for passengers about delays/gate changes etc
- potential operational efficiencies such as the ability for mechanics to communicate directly with database systems for repairs
- helping ground staff with speedy aircraft turnaround
Tnooz has also written about the wider potential for travel here
So, what needs to happen?
According to SITA Lab, the technology needs to be more robust, costs will have to come down and bandwidth will have to be reliable for airports and airlines to adopt it.
The study also mentions other considerations such as battery life, more powerful processing, better quality cameras and how developers will need to adapt to the new user interface and screen size.
Then there are the human elements such as privacy concerns around people being photographed or filmed but look around you, CCTV is pretty widespread.
And, will employees actually want to wear the devices? No necessarily if you believe a Cornerstone OnDemand
study which found 42% of workers would not be willing to wear the technology.
A number of companies, Sony, Samsung and Google, have already shown their hands and the chart below provides insight on who's doing what and the various capabilities.
The study ends on a high note saying that as with all new tech we're just beginning to learn.
"It's worth remembering that when SITA Lab first worked with the camera on smartphones five years ago to scan bag tags..., the cameras only worked in idea conditions. Within 18 months the cameras had evolved to not only easily scan the bag tags but 2D barcoded boarding passes too."