Gatwick installs 2000 indoor navigation beacons enabling Augmented Reality wayfinding
New technology forms part of Gatwick’s £2.5 billion transformation programme
System to make it easier for passengers to find their way around the airport and avoid missing flights
Battery powered beacons reduced costs and complexity and were deployed in just three weeks
Around 2000 beacons have been installed across Gatwick Airport’s two terminals providing an indoor navigation system that is much more reliable than GPS and that enables augmented reality wayfinding for passengers – a world first for an airport.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Battery powered beacons kept logistical complexity and costs low, with deployment taking just three weeks, followed by two months of testing and calibration.
The new technology is part of Gatwick’s £2.5 billion investment programme to transform the airport.