Your smartphone makes it easy to locate any restaurant in the heart of downtown, but it’s not much help getting you through a crowded airport. That is unless you’re travelling through London’s Gatwick Airport.

Spot the Dot

Recently, Gatwick Airport installed around 2,000 beacons in two terminals, creating an indoor navigation system more reliable than traditional GPS. This beacon-based positioning system, built on Bluetooth® technology, is the world’s first for an airport.

The system uses Pointr Labs’ blue-dot positioning service to provide an augmented reality tool that guides you through the airport. By following the path overlaid in the camera view of your mobile device, you can easily find check-in areas, departure gates, baggage claim, and more.

The Foundation for Future Benefits

Gatwick Airport’s beacon-based system is just the beginning. Moving forward, it will allow airlines and airport retailers to create added benefits, including real-time gate change and departure delay notifications, as well as promotional messages for nearby passengers. 

“We’re opening the door for…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,” said Abhi Chacko, Head of IT Commercial & Innovation, Gatwick Airport.

What About Privacy?

As with any sharing technology, user privacy and the protection of personal data is always a concern. Gatwick says that no personal data will be collected, but that using generic information on traveler densities in different beacon zones may help improve airport operations. This includes fast queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows, and reducing overall airport congestion.

Simple to Install, Easy to Maintain

Beyond the benefits to passengers, Gatwick Airport’s beacon-based system is a low-cost option for indoor navigation. By using battery-powered beacons, Gatwick minimized logistical complexity while keeping installation and maintenance costs low. Plus, they got the entire system up and running in just three weeks and only needed two months for testing and calibration. This makes beacons a smart solution for optimizing air travel.

If you’d like to learn more about Bluetooth® beacon technology, or to learn how to integrate it into your products or apps, be sure to check out our two beacon developer kits.

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