Airport uses AR to help passengers get to the right gate

Your heart pounding, bag bouncing on your back as you sprint past onlookers, continuously looking behind to make sure the rest of your party is still behind you.

The list of aggravations that will come from missing your flight begin to multiply in your mind. Why didn’t we leave half an hour earlier?

Being late for a flight is not a pleasant experience, especially with the complexity of modern airports.

Gatwick Airport believes it has provided panicked travellers with a cutting-edge solution.

2,000 indoor navigation beacons have been installed across the airport’s two terminals to provide an indoor navigation system that is much more reliable than GPS.

The installation is part of Gatwick’s £2.5 billion transformation programme.

The system allows users to turn their mobile camera into an AR wayfinding tool, pointing them towards their check in areas, departure gates and baggage collection.

First end-to-end airport system

The system uses indoor beacons to create reliable ‘blue dots’ on indoor maps.

Developed and managed by PointrLabs, the battery powered beacons were deployed in just 3 weeks, following two months of testing and caliberation.

“As an ACI member advising on beacon installations around the world and as a company who have been involved in various airport projects from Asia to US, we are pleased to announce that Gatwick Airport will be the first airport with an end-to-end working system with incredible accuracy both in terms of blue-dot location and orientation,” Axel Katalan, CMO at PointrLabs said.

“Our SDK enables battery-optimised, multiplatform and high performance positioning and other features such as 3D wayfinding through AR and on-screen translation, all of which are now available to be used by Gatwick and their partners as simple as drag & drop.”

Gatwick hopes that the indoor blue dot maps will be used by a wide range of mobile apps, both by the airport itself and third party developers.

The airport is keen to stress that it will not be seeking to collect personal passenger data, aside from ‘people densities’ data that would allow it to streamline passenger flows and reduce congestion.

Third party developers, such as retailers, may seek to collect data with consent to send relevant promotional messages for opted-in consumers.

“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,” said Abhi Chacko, head of IT Commercial & Innovation at Gatwick Airport.

“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