Gatwick Airport installs beacons for augmented reality wayfinding

A new indoor navigation system at Gatwick Airport enables passengers to find their way around using augmented reality.

The airport said last month that it has installed 2,000 beacons across its two terminals, providing a navigation system that is more reliable than GPS in an indoor environment.

The beacon-based positioning system provides a ‘blue dot’ location on indoor maps, and can be used within a range of airport, airline or third party mobile apps.

It also enables an augmented reality wayfinding tool – a world first for an airport. This shows passengers directions in the camera view of their mobile device, making it easier to locate check-in areas, departure gates, etc.

No personal data will be collected by Gatwick, but generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones may help to improve airport operations including queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows and reducing congestion.

Meanwhile, airlines – with passenger consent – could send reminders on their airline app to people who are running late, 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 at the airport could 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 £2.5bn transformation programme.

The airport’s IT commercial and innovation head Abhi Chacko 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.”

“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.”

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts