Sabre Corporation is developing travel services that work across the emerging spectrum of wearable technology including smartwatches and Google Glass, preparing for the dramatic impact wearables will have on the way consumers shop for and experience travel.
Researchers expect a large proportion of the population to embrace wearable computing in the near future as evidenced by the adoption trajectory of other technology advances like the smart phone and tablets. Juniper Research forecasts that worldwide spending on wearable technology will hit $1.4 billion this year and will reach $19 billion by 2018. Further, wearable computing is already expanding beyond the early adopters and quickly becoming more mainstream, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The research firm estimates that more than 19 million wearable computing devices will be sold in 2014, and forecasts the global market to reach 111.9 million units in 2018.
TripCase, Sabre’s leading travel itinerary management app, is the first travel app of its kind to integrate with the highly-anticipated Samsung Gear S smartwatch, launched Nov. 7 in the US market. The integration allows the traveler to click the notification on the watch to open the TripCase app to the relevant place on the mobile device, and will include a click-to-call feature next month. In addition, consumers using Android Wear devices and the Pebble and Pebble Steel watches can receive TripCase travel notifications directly to their wearable devices.
TripCase users wearing these smart devices will receive real-time flight alerts, gate changes and other travel information conveniently on their wrists at a time when minute counts. This initial integration lays the ground work for more advanced TripCase services to be accessible on wearable technology in the future. TripCase is on pace to manage more than 25 million trips in 2014.
“As the adoption of wearable technology grows, we want to ensure that the travel industry is ready to leverage this technology and serve travelers on the device they prefer,” said John Samuel, senior vice president of Sabre Travelers Solutions. “Wearable technology is fast becoming a prominent means of customer notification and communication. We’re looking to take it even further – from a one-way means of communications to an interactive, on-the-go service experience,” said Samuel.
Sabre recently showcased its Google Glass prototype travel app at the World Travel Market in London. The app can find a flight based on a user’s simple voice command, for example: “Ok Glass, Find a Flight from London Heathrow to Miami in June.”
“Wearable technologies – such as smartwatches and heads-up devices like Google Glass – will forever change the way consumers experience travel – from shopping via virtual reality to voice command recommendation,” continued Samuel. “Creating these full service experiences require not just smart devices but also more precise location services and smart recommendation services.”
Sabre Labs, the technology incubator and research lab at Sabre, continues to explore the application of geo-location technologies and their application to wearable devices in the travel experience. Understanding a traveler’s precise indoor location and developing services that use that context to share information and interactions on wearables will be a critical piece in creating a more intuitive experience for travelers.