Google Glass: Anger at Edinburgh Airport plan

Google Glass. Picture: Getty
Google Glass. Picture: Getty
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Privacy campaigners have accused Edinburgh Airport bosses of ‘spying’ on passengers, after it revealed plans for its staff to wear controversial Google Glasses.

Edinburgh Airport will be the first in the UK to trial the technology in a bid to improve “the passenger experience”, while its use could be rolled out to other airports.

Wearers can surf the web using voice commands and take pictures just by winking.

Customer service teams will use the hands-free glasses to provide flight information, translations and answer passenger inquiries until the end of the year.

Edinburgh Airport’s chief executive, Gordon Dewar, welcomed the technological addition to services, adding that it was subject to a test period.

But privacy campaigners have raised concerns over the intrusion of privacy, the ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said the airport should think “very carefully” whether the technology was appropriate for an airport.

She said: “The danger with Google Glass is that the camera is seeing what you see, all the time, while the microphone allows nearby conversations to be eavesdropped on.

“It is impossible to guarantee against these devices being hacked, so it is surprising that this technology is allowed anywhere like an airport or government buildings.

“Google Glass offers a uniquely detailed view of your life and your surroundings and while Google’s main interest is selling advertising, there are a whole range of reasons why other people might seek to do all they can to get access to a device.

“The only way to protect yourself and the people around you is to not wear them.

“Edinburgh Airport should therefore think very carefully about whether this is appropriate technology to use in an airport.”

The airport is the UK’s fifth largest - in terms of passenger numbers - and Scotland’s busiest with around 9.78 million passengers passing through its gates in 2013.

Edinburgh Airport employs over 5000 people, and the Google Glasses will be worn by its customer welcome team, Blackjack, who are a division of service providers Omniserve.

Ernest Patterson, chairman of Omniserv, said the wearable technology would enable his staff to remain “mobile and change the way that we access and provide information to our passengers.”

He added: “Edinburgh Airport is a fast paced, friendly and dynamic airport; and as such, we need to ensure that we work in partnership to trial and use the latest technologies to enhance the overall passenger experience.

“Although this is at a trial stage, the potential opportunities that this technology could offer to our business are very exciting.”

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, welcomed the technology, adding that tests were necessary to see whether it was “suitable for an airport environment”.

He said: “The fact that it’s the first trial of its kind in a Scottish airport is exciting as it shows we’re 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.”