UK's Gatwick Airport installs 2,000 Bluetooth beacons for AR-based indoor navigation

in iPhone
Gatwick Airport, the second-busiest airport in the United Kingdom, is making it easier for passengers to navigate its two terminals with the installation of around 2,000 beacons, initially providing iPhone users their location on indoor maps, with the system also allowing for the use of augmented reality wayfinding in the future.

Part of a 2.5 billion ($3.2 billion U.S.) transformation program for the airport, the beacons were deployed throughout the facility over the course of three weeks, with the use of battery powered beacons to simplify installation and reduce costs. After deployment, the airport conducted two months of testing and calibration of the beacons before making them available for use by the public.

Due to the inability for GPS-based systems to work indoors, beacons can be used as landmarks for a mobile device to work out its location. In the initial phase of the project, TechCrunch reports it is being used to get a more accurate positioning on indoor maps from their iPhone, with an accuracy of up to 3 meters (9.8 feet).

The beacons will also work with an upcoming augmented reality app that will guide users to other locations by on-screen arrows, overlaying the immediate route ahead on the iPhone camera's view, and said to be a world first for an airport to install. Gatwick is working with Pointr to manage the system, with the UK startup also providing an SDK for third-parties to use the beacon system, complete with support for AR wayfinding.

Using the SDK, the airport suggests the beacons could be used by airlines to send reminders to passengers via the airline's app, helping them get to the gate for boarding with a notice depending on how far away the user is, for example. Retailers could also use the beacons to provide relevant offers to passengers based on their proximity to the store, if users agree to receive the marketing messages.

The airport advises that no personal data of users will be collected by Gatwick or Pointr via the system, though it will receive "generic information" about the density of people in different beacon zones. This anonymized data could be used to help improve airport operations, including queue management, streamlining passenger flows, and reducing congestion in terminals.

While claiming to be the first airport to plan to use beacons for AR-based wayfinding, beacon technology is already being used by other airports, and also airlines, in a number of different ways. In 2014, passengers of Virgin Atlantic were able to receive relevant information on their iOS device based on their position in London Heathrow airport, using iBeacon hardware from Estimote and a custom pass in Apple's Passbook application.

In the same year, British Airways updated its iOS app to automatically send push notifications to passengers entering its Terminal 5 lounge with a personalized welcome message, as well as the lounge's Wi-Fi password. The message was triggered by iPhone users passing by an iBeacon.


  • Reply 1 of 10
    Just add to this escape routes for terrorism acts and it will be complete.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,149member
    Just add to this escape routes for terrorism acts and it will be complete.
    That works, but I was also going to be the one that says, "What about Android users?"
  • Reply 3 of 10
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,056member
    jbdragon said:
    Just add to this escape routes for terrorism acts and it will be complete.
    That works, but I was also going to be the one that says, "What about Android users?"
    And what about Android users? What do you mean?
  • Reply 4 of 10
    LoneStar88LoneStar88 Posts: 288member
    Great AR application! Sounds like fun.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    saltyzipsaltyzip Posts: 193member
    Malcolm, where is the source for "initially providing iPhone users" come from, did you make that bit up?

    If you did don't go to a Trump news conference, as he'll be shouting fake news at you.

    This is the article I believe contains the source of this news and no mention of iPhone within it:

    The company has created an SDK for running on all platforms.

    If you go to pointr labs website it shows tracking video on an android device, a Samsung one
    edited May 2017 singularity
  • Reply 6 of 10
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 682member
    avon b7 said:
    jbdragon said:
    Just add to this escape routes for terrorism acts and it will be complete.
    That works, but I was also going to be the one that says, "What about Android users?"
    And what about Android users? What do you mean?
    They're already being monitored. Any govt, biz or
    group can already send them messages! ;D
    [Deleted User]
  • Reply 7 of 10
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,147member
    Ew Gatwick it's worse than Stansted!
    Gatport Airwick is my local Airport (5 miles away) and yes it is crap but compared to some airports around the world it isn't bad.
    My pet hate is CDG (Paris) for always losing my bags followed by Mumbai for changing flights (domestic to international)

    All these beacons tracking your every step will just make me switch my phone into Flight Mode before I get to the Airport.
    The next step will be to beam personal ads at you in order to make you spend money before your flight. Thin end of the wedge and all that.
    As a fairly frequent flyer, I rarely buy anything other than a coffee or a beer unless I've forgotten something like toothpaste but there again, I'm not the sort of person who would be suckered in by this crap anyway.

  • Reply 8 of 10
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 3,361member
    Ew Gatwick it's worse than Stansted!

    Is that you, Benjamin?
  • Reply 9 of 10
    I expected this to take off (no pun intended) much sooner, iBeacons were announced years ago and don't seem that expensive or hard to retro-fit/install. I would have thought by now most shopping malls, airports, train stations etc. etc. would be kitted out to assist in navigation primarily but also for those that want it - offers and special deals etc.

    Also, I 2nd CDG being a nightmare, especially when France is still under state-of-emergency, armed dwayne-johnson sized guys shouting at you in French to open your backpack for looking suspicious (lost and confused) lol.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    tomekrupiktomekrupik Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Interesting read! There are many proximity platform providers that enable just that but only a few do actually provide essential features like ready to use mobile app with loyalty campaigns, geofencing, qr codes and digital signage. I suggest you do your own research in this regard or simply try – a complete iBeacon & Eddystone platform.
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