Gatwick Airport has installed about 2,000 beacons across its two terminals, that it hopes will provide a more reliable navigation system than GPS for passengers.
The beacon-based positioning system is one part of Gatwick's £2.5bn transformation programme. It will mean people don't have to use Google or Apple maps, which can be unreliable indoors, to try and navigate their way around the airport .
Instead, they will be able to use a blue dot on indoor maps, a system managed by PointrLabs, which in time will be supported through numerous airport, airline and third-party mobile applications.
In addition, the augmented reality wayfinding tool will mean passengers can be shown directions in the camera view of their mobile device, making it easier for passengers to locate check-in areas, departure gates and baggage belts.
The airport said that no personal data will be collected, but that generic information on ‘people densities' in different beacon zones may be used to help to improve the way the airport operates - particularly to reduce congestion.
Gatwick is in talks with airlines to enable the indoor positioning and wayfinding tools to feature in their own app services. If airlines get the consent of passengers, they could send reminders on their airline app for people who are running late, or could even find out where they are and make a decision on whether to offload their luggage so the aircraft can take off on time.
Less usefully, retailers and other third parties could use the system to detect proximity and send relevant offers or promotional messages, if the passenger has chosen to receive them.
"By providing the infrastructure we're opening the door for a wide range of tech savvy airport providers, including our airlines and retailers, to launch new real-time services that can help passengers find their way around the airport, avoid missing flights or receive timely offers that might save them money," said Abhi Chacko, head of IT commercial and innovation at Gatwick Airport.
"We are proud to be the first airport to deploy augmented reality technology and we hope that our adoption of this facility influences other airports and transport providers so that it eventually becomes the norm," he added.
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