It’s All in Your Head

May 23, 2018

Seeing things differently takes on new meaning and a literal approach to ground support efficiency when discussed through a smart glasses viewpoint.

Vuzix is a supplier of smart glasses, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, serving 47 airports in 14 countries with smart technology for their ramp handling operations.

Vuzix’ Director of Sales for North America and APAC, Joe Surprenant, explains that the M300 Smart Glasses are a head-mounted device with a computer stick that sits in front of the person’s dominant eye. Through the lens of the computer stick, information is provided in real time, such as the weight, sequencing positions, plan destination, time, on or behind schedule stats, etc.

“It provides any type of vital information the ramp handler or person driving the cargo truck needs, hands-free and with heads up,” he says. “They can look in the direction of the cargo, see a marker and it immediately augments the information. It gives them all the vitals that typically would reside on a laptop or on an iPad they’d have to hold up while driving.”

Ramp handling staff can view QR codes or other markers on baggage and cargo containers and instantly see details, such as their weight and loading sequence, pop up on small screens.

As an example, Surprenant gives the task of performing maintenance on a plane.

“Maybe I’ve been doing this for a month and come across something I didn’t encounter in my training,” he suggests. “I can ask and have all that information at my eye level with step-by-step instructions.”

He says the employee doesn’t have to call and distract another staff member for help, they don’t have to leave and go back to a desktop, and if they do get stuck, the glasses feature a bi-directional camera, which allows remote audio/video at the click of a button.

“So I’m on the tarmac, having an issue, and the expert is up in the control room,” Surprenant explains. “He or she can see what I’m doing while my hands are free and guide me through the process, telling me exactly what to do.”

Return on Investment

Any technological acquisition for a ground support provider must also be viewed in terms of return on investment.

Surprenant says the initial investment in their particular technology can be as small or big as the client desires, starting with basic capabilities and then maturing into a more integrated solution with the Vuzix Smart Glasses.

Surprenant says that the improvement in training time for new employees is another enormous benefit of this wearable technology. With rates of 50 to 60 percent faster training times, he says that staff are being on-boarded much quicker and able to get help right where they’re at while on the job.

Safety, he adds, is a paramount benefit of this technology.

“It’s much less obtrusive than someone carrying a piece of paper in front of their eyes, or an iPad and falling into something,” Surprenant explains.

According to Suprenant, after an initial year-long pilot of the M300 glasses at Chiang Mai Airport, ground support personnel were turning airplanes 50 percent quicker with a 25 percent reduction in errors, a seven-to-eight figure savings each year.

About the Author

Jen Bradley

Jen Bradley, owner of Bradley Bylines, is an aviation writer based in East Troy, WI. She may be reached via her website at