Tech curious Air New Zealand has trialled robots, augmented reality and
Google Pixel Buds, Laura Gelder finds out why
This year Air New Zealand became one of the first corporates in the world to trial Google’s wireless Bluetooth Pixel Buds headphones as a customer service tool. The headphones enable live translation of 40 languages via Google’s Pixel handset.
The trials were conducted behind the scenes to explore how the technology could work in the check-in and inflight environments but will not be used just yet as they require wifi access which is yet to be introduced across the fleet. Perhaps they’re slightly ahead of themselves?
But it's "an interesting technology for us to play and experiment with" insists ANZ's chief digital officer Avi Golan. "This is part of a wider approach where we’re looking at a range of new technologies to see how these can help to enhance the experience we offer our customers and the way we work – in this increasingly digital world our customers expect us to provide a fast, personalised experience so it’s crucial we embrace tech solutions and collaborating with like-minded partners helps.”
Last year the airline partnered with CommBank in a five-day experiment utilising Chip CANdroid, the bank's social humanoid robot, which interacted with and assisted its customers checking in and at the gate.
It also worked with IT provider Dimension Data on unique software for Microsoft's augmented reality (AR) viewer HoloLens. This could support cabin crew by aggregating and displaying key customer information such as preferred meal and drinks choice, onward travel plans and loyalty details. It can also detect passenger emotions by picking up on visual and audio cues.
Golan says the airline has fostered a strong culture of experimentation and it is keen to see which will stick.
This year marked the first birthday of one tech success story: chatbot
Oscar, who is currently having 1,000 conversations a day on average. Golan claims the ANZ bot has his own unique tone and personality: "We've spent considerable time developing Oscar in-house rather than purchasing an off-theshelf bot more likely to specialise in a smaller number of topics and more challenging to customise.”
Oscar was recently introduced to customers in Australia as well as to users of the airline's mobile app and has now integrated the technology that powers him with in-home digital assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. There are further plans for Oscar, including integration with other chat platforms and additional self-service functionality.
We’re looking at new technologies
to enhance the experience we offer