Airport Adds 2,000 Beacons, Augmented Reality Wayfinding

Beacons at retail have been chugging along in various tests and trials, with some large deployments.

The promise of beacons in that context has been the ability to deliver more relevant messaging based on location or to gather information-based location insights for later or other uses.

However, when used as a service, beacons can be used to help people get around.

That’s just what the U.K.’s Gatwick Airport did, by installing 2,000 beacons across its two terminals to enable a reliable ‘blue dot’ on indoor maps.

As an added IoT twist, Gatwick added an augmented reality wayfinding tool, so passengers can be shown directions in the camera view of their smartphone.

Airport execs say Gatwick is not collecting any personal data, though generic information on people densities in different beacon zone may be used to improve airport operations, such as queue management and reducing congestion.

For marketing, retailers and other third parties may also use the beacon system to detect proximity and send relevant offers or promotional messages to passengers who opt to receive them.

“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,” stated Abhi Chacko, head of IT commercial and innovation, Gatwick Airport

Gatwick also is in discussions with airlines to enable the beacon-triggered wayfinding tool into their apps.

While the beacons can’t make the airlines depart or arrive on time, at least they can help travelers find their way around the airport while they wait.

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