Large airports can be intimidating and confusing, particularly for passengers who have never visited that airport before, or for those who don’t necessarily know the local language. Gatwick Airport are seeking to combat this with the installation of beacons that guide passengers through the airport using augmented reality (AR).
Gatwick Airport has installed over 2000 beacons throughout its two terminals in order to provide passengers with an indoor navigation service that can direct them to locations such as check-in terminals, departure gates and baggage claim. The beacons were necessary for implementing the system due to the unreliability of satellite-based signals when indoors.
The navigation technology is in the process of being integrated into Gatwick’s smartphone apps, and airport authorities are in negotiations with airlines who use the airport to have the same functionality built into other airline company apps.
Other uses for the system have been suggested, such as locating late-running passengers and sending them a text reminder through the app. It’s also possible that basic information picked up by the beacons such as ‘people density’ in different area could be used to improve airport queue management and reduce congestion at busy times.
It has also been suggested that retailers within the airport could send promotional messages to nearby passengers, advising them of currently ongoing offers. Abhi Chacko, Head of IT Commercial & Innovation at Gatwick Airport had this to say: “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.”
VRFocus will continue to report on innovative uses of AR technology.