May 29, 2017

Navigating an airport can be a daunting task but Gatwick airport in the UK are utilizing augmented reality to help passengers navigate to where they need to go.

You’re late for a flight and have no idea how to get to security, let alone your terminal. Gatwick is pretty good for signage but only if you’re familiar with the airport. For those who aren’t so familiar and perhaps aren’t local to the country and therefore have an inherent language barrier, Gatwick has turned to AR to help out.

Gatwick has installed over 2000 beacons around the airport across the north and south terminal that will provide passengers with indoor navigation. You’ll be directed in augmented reality with arrows overlayed directly on your smartphone to the lounges, check-in desks, departure gates, or baggage claim areas. The accuracy of the system is thanks to the beacons Gatwick have installed given the relative inaccuracy of GPS while indoors. Instead, the app locks onto these beacons to provide an accurate location.

Positioning isn’t the only use of these beacons though with other possibilities including creating heat zones of activity to map out busy areas of the airport. Other uses could include locating specific passengers who are late for their flight or various offers for shops within the airport much like Apple’s iBeacon technology.

Abhi Chacko, Head of IT Commercial & Innovation at Gatwick Airport said:

“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.”

It’s great to see augmented reality being used practically to provide users a service to make an otherwise stressful experience relatively straight forward. It will be interesting to see how Gatwick Airport utilize the technology as far as providing offers goes and if this is an opt-in service as to not be labelled as spam.

Let us know if you think this is a good use of augmented reality by dropping us a comment below.

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