JFK Airport launches Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode at T4

Varsha Saraogi 8 January 2020 (Last Updated January 8th, 2020 14:42)

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Airport has partnered with Google to adopt Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode technology at its Terminal 4 with the aim to reduce language barriers for international tourists.

JFK Airport launches Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode at T4
JFK airport introduces Google Assitant’s interpreter mode. Credit: JFK Airport.

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Airport has partnered with Google to adopt Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode technology at its Terminal 4 with the aim to reduce language barriers for international tourists.

This partnership will enable JFKIAT- the operator of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport – to offer real-time language translation for 29 languages including Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese to international travellers, assisting them with issues such as locating luggage, navigating the terminal, finding concessions, and locating ground transportation.

The introduction, which made JFK Airport the first air terminal in the world to adopt such a tool, bids to bring “innovative technology into the terminal to enhance the customer experience,” JFK Airport said in a statement.

The Interpreter Mode is available through Google Nest Hubs and will be used at the airport’s welcome centre in the arrivals hall, the post-security information booth, as well as the help desk located in the retail lounge.

Commenting on the new feature, JFKIAT president and CEO Roel Huinink said that the partnership is aimed at making customers’ “experience more seamless and efficient as they travel through the terminal”.

Huinink added that launching the technology is essential for the airport, which serves more than 21 million passengers each year, the majority of which are international travellers.

Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode – which uses machine learning to provide instant translation – was launched by Google at the CES 2019 but can only be used on mobile devices. At the recent CES 2020, the tech giant announced new partnerships with systems integrators Volara and SONIFI will help launch a full-service solution for helping businesses.

Google said in a statement: “Flying can be very stressful for passengers, especially when struggling to understand the native language. Guest Services staff are finding Interpreter Mode to be invaluable in fostering communication that enhances the customer experience travelling through and from the airport.”

Other than JFK Airport, Google Assistant’s technology was also recently launched at Los Angeles International Airport’s Admirals Club lounges exclusively for passengers of American Airlines in Terminals 4 and 5.

According to American Airlines, the tool will only be used when there’s no multilingual team member around to help guests. While it’s only currently available in two lounges, the airport plans to add more locations later in the year.

Over the past year, JKF has undertaken several other technology-based initiatives aimed at improving passenger flow in the face of soaring passenger rates.

In 2019, for instance, JFKIAT introduced biometric boarding at several international gates throughout its terminals. Terminal 4 also recently became the first terminal in New York to offer Aira Access, which helps to make air travel more accessible for passengers with low vision or blindness.

In addition, JFK Airport is currently undergoing various renovation and expansion works as part of a $13bn project that will allow it to handle 75 million annual passengers by 2030. These include new amenities, a redesigned airport traffic layout, centralised ground transport options, new taxiways and gate capacity and new amenities.