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Britain’s Gatwick Airport now has 2,000 beacons for indoor navigation

Complicated indoor environments just like airports and department stores is often a nightmare to find your way around. And while Google is eyeing mobile phones with 3D sensors as one potential fix for places GPS won’t correctly reach, another approach is to kit out an interior with a lot of Bluetooth beacons – giving smart phone users located-locked pings to fix onto to grasp where they’re.

The UK’s 2nd busiest air-port, Gatwick, has chosen the latter method to power an indoor navigation system it’s launching as an element of a wider, multi-year transformation program.

It’s presently finished kitting out its two terminals with roughly 2 Thousand battery-powered beacons to make sure that digital map users will get a more accurate blue dot as they wander around. The beacon system will also be used to power an augmented reality wayfinding tool – in order that mobile users will be able to be guided to specific locations inside the terminals thru on-screen arrows. The beacon system is planned as backing up positioning with +/-3m accuracy.

Gatwick is going to integrate indoor positioning into some of its apps, and says it’s in discussions with airlines to tap into it for their own apps and services – giving demonstration of them the ability to send push notifications to remind travelers if they’re running late, or even make a decision on if they should wait or offload luggage so a plane can take off promptly.

Retailers and other third parties will also be able to utilize the system for proximity detection of potential buyers and delivery advertising and marketing messages – at least to those who’ve signed up to receive them.

Gatwick says it will not be collecting any private information through the beacons but says “generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones” will be used to help to improve airport operations – such as queue measurement, streamlining passenger flows and cutting down over-crowding.

The airport has worked with UK new venture Pointr on the system. As well as developing software and managing the system on an ongoing basis, Pointr provides an SDK with support for 3D AR wayfinding to allow third parties to tap into the functionality.

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