Gatwick Airport launches innovative gadget to navigate terminals

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Have you ever been caught in the mad panic of realising you’re late for your flight? The dawning realisation that a) you’ve got 5 minutes before the gate closes and b) you don’t know where your gate is can really put a dampener on the start of your holiday.

As you race through the terminal (sweating), you’re constantly confused and enraged at why there seems to be a gate 15A but no sign of gate 15, you trip over trollies and errant suitcases along the way. You finally reach your gate after running around in the opposite direction for what seems like forever and begin your holiday in a chaotic fashion.

When you’ve finally got a chance to relax and as you jet off to your sun-kissed destination you lament – “what if there was some kind of device that helps you navigate through the airport much easier”. Well now there is!

Gatwick Airport has become the first of its kind to implement augmented reality to guide lost passengers through its terminals. This groundbreaking technology uses 2,000 battery-powered beacons and is harnessed by a mobile phone app so users can easily find their way around. The system forms part of a £2.5 billion transformation programme across the airport.

The app, which can be downloaded for free, mounted beacons in the walls and fixtures of the airport as opposed to GPS satellite navigation. Should the passenger need to find a specific departure gate, nearest toilet, baggage belts or a specific check-in area, the app accesses their smartphone’s camera creating a 3D arrow over an augmented reality and directs them accordingly.

Gatwick believes that this concept will significantly aid passengers and ensure they reach their flight on time. The airport added there is also scope to add new technology on the back of feedback from passengers.

Abhi Chacko, head of IT commercial and innovation at Gatwick Airport, 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.”

With technology like this now a reality, you will never have to worry about getting lost in an airport ever again.