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Air New Zealand to trial digital translation technology

Airline becomes one of the first companies to try out a business case for Google's real-time translation technology

Air New Zealand is trying out technology from Google to help staff understand customers who speak different languages.

Using Google’s wireless Bluetooth Pixel Buds headphones and Pixel handset users can receive live translation of 40 languages. The technology will support staff if there is nobody available who speaks the language of a customer making a request.

The airline is one of the first corporates globally to trial a customer service use case for the technology.

Avi Golan, chief digital officer at Air New Zealand, said the airline already has multilingual employees, but accepted there were times when the relevant language speaker might not be available.

“We operate to 30 international destinations, and our customers speak an even more diverse range of languages. Google’s Pixel Buds could assist in areas such as check-in and boarding, as well as inflight, to help our staff communicate effectively with international customers,” said Golan.

He said the airline was increasingly adopting the latest digital technologies.

“In this increasingly digital world our customers expect us to provide a fast and personalised experience. It’s crucial we embrace technology solutions, and collaborating with like-minded partners helps us keep ahead of the game,” said Golan.

Air New Zealand is aiming to be a leader in the industry when it comes to digital adoption. The experiment with Google Pixel Buds follows on from other initiatives this year, involving artificial intelligence, augmented reality and social robotics.

“[It has] been excellent exploring how translation technology like Google’s Pixel Buds could enhance our customer experience,” added Golan.

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