Around 2000 beacons have been installed across Gatwick Airport’s two terminals providing an indoor navigation system that is claimed to be much more reliable than GPS and one that enables augmented reality wayfinding for passengers.
Axel Katalan, CMO at PointrLabs told us “As an ACI member advising on beacon installations around the world and as a company who have been involved in various airport projects from Asia to US, we are pleased to announce that Gatwick Airport will be the first airport with an end-to-end working system with incredible accuracy both in terms of blue-dot location and orientation. Our SDK enables battery-optimised, multiplatform and high performance positioning and other features such as 3D wayfinding through AR and on-screen translation, all of which are now available to be used by Gatwick and their partners as simple as drag & drop.”
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 beacon system also enables an augmented reality wayfinding tool – so 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, baggage belts etc.
As usual it is stressed that 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.
Of course, Airlines could go further – and with the consent of their passengers – 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.
Retailers and other third parties may also use the beacon system to detect proximity and send relevant offers or promotional messages, if the passenger has chosen to receive them.
The new technology is part of Gatwick’s £2.5 billion investment programme to transform the airport.