Google Glass Aiming to Transform How We Travel

Google has been playing slow and careful when it comes to rolling out Google Glass beyond a small, albeit passionate, community of early-adopters and developers known as Explorers. But for a single day last week the doors into the Google Glass Explorer Program were opened up ever so slightly to welcome in an undisclosed amount of new users, selling out all available spots online in quick time to anyone willing to fork over $1,500.

Following the one-day sale was the announcement of a new “try before you buy” program, which allows interested future would-be Glass customers to model non-working trial kits before dropping the serious chunk of change required to wear and weather what is essentially a beta device predicating the inevitable rise of wearable technology.


So let’s say you’re one of the fortunate few to find themselves a new owner of Google Glass. Now what? Meeting with representatives at the Google Glass Basecamp in Chelsea, New York last week, most questions about future developments in Glass capabilities were met with non-specifics, a few raised eyebrows, and the occasional smirk communicating a “just you wait and see” attitude.


What Glass representatives were willing to quickly point out were the numerous 3rd party developers already offering or working on expanding Glass capabilities in the fields of science, art, medicine, sports, and fashion. But it might be the travel industry – a natural fit for Glass’s augmented vision + geolocation technology – which may find its landscape most changed if/when wearable technologies like Glass become commonplace, reinforcing my own experience demoing the latest iteration of Google Glass while visiting New York.


SPG on Glass App
Currently in beta, the SPG on Glass App will allow Starwood Preferred Guests to use Glass to search for hotels via voice commands, tour potential accomodations using a virtual tour, discover nearby sights and attractions, review account information, and book hotel rooms or suites right from Glass. Once a room is reserved, guests can use the Glass app to provide real-time GPS-enabled directions.


Virgin Atlantic x Google Glass
Virgin founder and avid first adopter, Richard Branson, has never been one to shy away from burgeoning future technologies. No surprise he’s had his Virgin Atlantic airline team give Google Glass a test run for a six-week trial, all with the goal of augmenting the airline’s service. Virgin Atlantic 1st Class passengers everywhere may soon find themselves greeted by airline staff donning Glass for tech-enhanced concierge service at airport terminals. A customer’s name, their flight details, passport information, baggage status, connecting flight info, dietary preferences/requirements, car and hotel accommodations, and any other detail are all accessible via Glass.


Google Glass Travel Concierge App
Tourism industry site,, believes Google has their eyes on disrupting the travel industry with a top secret 3G-enabled travel app which will allow users to talk to Glass just like a “real travel agent”, capable of answering “100% of the requests made” using the app, while covering 98% of the request topics normally handled by a real world agent. The app is currently being tested in beta, and will be called “Travel Concierge”, planned for launch this autumn.

Field Trip on Glass
Google Glass isn’t just all about what’s on the horizon. There are a few apps already available which Glass users can download and begin using to augment the travel experience right now. Field Trip on Glass merges augmented reality with a subscription-based enhanced travel guide, a sort of proactive, push-publish extension of Google Now using a visual overlay. With the app loaded, Field Trip aims to answer questions like “what’s good to eat around here?” or “where can I find ____?” before Glass wearers even think to ask.

Word Lens for Google Glass
Now here’s where Glass becomes more clearly and immediately helpful, tackling a common issue when traveling abroad: translating foreign language signs. Using a stored database of about 10,000 words per language, the Word Lens app for Google Glass can translate signs or markers viewed through Google Glass from one language to another in real time, all without a network connection. Those wondering about the technology’s accuracy without Glass on hand can download the free Word Lens app for either iOS or Android to satiate their curiosity today.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at