March 21, 2013

Tech Thursdays: Google Glass

Welcome to Tech Thursdays, penned by Miguel, tech expert and our Airport Operations Supervisor in San Jose, California. This month’s topic is Google Glass – that cool, new innovation from Google that will allow you to see the world through the eyes of other’s – and what it means for travel.

Technology plays a big part in travel, whether it’s snapping that stunning vacation photo or looking up the best place to eat. Even with today’s smartest smartphones and tablets, you have to pull the device out of your pocket, look down, swipe or punch buttons to access that powerful computing power when you need it. Google plans to make it less visible by putting it’s latest tech, well, right in front of your face.

They’re hoping to achieve this magic trick with Google Glass, high tech glasses that can display and capture information, photos and videos in front one of your eyes. Rather than swiping and touching buttons, Google Glass operates via voice commands, head gestures and simple tap controls. After watching several videos on YouTube, it’s tough to ignore the potential that Google Glass has to change the way we use it while traveling.

At JetBlue, we created some visual examples of how this technology might look like being used by customers flying with us. We like innovative ideas that inspire innovative thinking. Our ideas are just concepts, but conceptual thinking is a great way approach old problems in new ways, and maybe settle on something that really works and is achievable!

Say you’re flying from San Francisco to New York, for instance. You can see flight information as soon as you enter the San Francisco terminal. Upon arrival in JFK, you can tap your Glass and say, “Flight 644 baggage claim.” Viola! The information is revealed without missing a step. Want to know the taxi fare to your Boston destination? Just tap and talk to the Glass.

Since we’re in the “What I would do with Google Glass” daydreaming stage, allow me to take the concept of Augmented Reality a little further with some dreamed up voice commands that could potentially one day make your travel experience even easier:

“Check-in, select seat”

Easy enough for a voice command, right? Glass could return a response showing me a seat map and tell me which ones are available, or even give me the option of upgrading to an Even More Space seat.

“Play”

Once at cruising altitude, this voice command could give me a list of entertainment options in both in-flight or within my own library. I can choose to watch DIRECTV channels or play a game with another customer on board. All within the privacy of my Glass.

“Scan”

The usual view at 38,000 feet is lots and lots of beautiful fluffy clouds. I’m one of those flyers who look out the window and try to make out the landscape and geography. With the “scan” command, I’d get a display telling me information about the land, mountains and waterways while I’m flying over it. Add this to the complimentary DIRECTV and SiriusXM radio and that five hour flight just got extremely short.

“Translate”

With the built-in microphone, the Google Glass can also “hear” audio. Could can employ Glass to translate the language of the person talking while in, let’s say, Puerto Rico? With a little homework, you should be able to respond in proper Spanish with guidance from Glass.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement with all the Google Glass news, YouTube videos and blogs. The concept of augmented reality intrigues and amazes, but how augmented do you want your reality to be? After watching my 50-pound computer shrink to fit my pocket, play video games simultaneously with 500,000 players worldwide and witnessing my cousin’s wedding live from 9,000 miles way, I say, “Why not?” I really doubt that this Glass is half-empty.

Read Miguel’s previous column Sharing the Gift and Don’t Leave Your Gadgets Behind.

Learn more about Miguel and stay tuned for the next edition of Tech Thursdays!

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