Air NZ to trial Google-powered live translation technology

Air New Zealand has taken another step into the digital realm, announcing the trial of a live translation tool for customer service.

Although Air New Zealand has a number of multi-lingual staff, it says it is difficult to ensure all languages are covered during every step of the travel process and on every flight.

Staff will be given Google Pixel Buds, which can translate 40 languages including Chinese, Hindi, German and Swahili in real time.

The buds work much like the infamous Babel fish from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - worn in the ear, the wireless buds provide a live translation to the wearer. After the wearer speaks, the buds' speaker can plays its translation out loud.

Chief digital officer Avi Golan says the buds will allow staff to better communicate with passengers across the experience.

"We operate to 30 international destinations and our customers speak an even more diverse range of languages," he said.

"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."