Gatwick Airport installs 2,000 BLE beacons for augmented reality wayfinding

Gatwick Airport
FLIGHT PATHS: Passengers can now find their way around Gatwick Airport using a BLE beacon system

Some 2,000 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons have been installed across London’s Gatwick Airport to provide an indoor navigation system and an augmented reality wayfinding service so that passengers can be shown directions in the camera view of their mobile device.

The beacon system is also open to retailers and other third parties, allowing them to detect the proximity of consumers and send relevant offers or promotional messages to their smartphones if the passenger has chosen to receive them.

“The lack of satellite signals makes road-based navigation systems such as Google or Apple maps unreliable indoors, so Gatwick has deployed a beacon-based positioning system to enable reliable ‘blue dot’ on indoor maps, which in time can be used within a range of mobile airport, airline or third party apps,” the airport says.

“The beacon system also enables an augmented reality wayfinding tool so passengers can be shown directions in the camera view of their mobile devices, making it easier for passengers to locate check in areas, departure gates, baggage belts etc.”

Integration options

“The new navigation technology is currently being integrated into some of the Gatwick apps and the airport is also in discussion with airlines to enable the indoor positioning and wayfinding tools to also feature on their app services,” the airport adds.

“No personal data will be collected by Gatwick, although generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones may help to improve airport operations including queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows and reducing congestion.

“Airlines could go further — and with the consent of their passengers — may send reminders on their airline app to late running passengers, for example, or find out where they are and make an informed decision on whether to wait or offload their luggage so the aircraft can take off on time.”

“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,” says 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.”

The ‘blue dot’ navigation system is being powered by technology provider PointrLabs.

Next: Visit the NFCW Expo to find new suppliers and solutions