New iPhone app uses Augmented Reality to guide you around the airport

Copenhagen has become the first airport to use augmented reality to help passengers navigate their way around the airport.

Augmented reality (AR) – which blends virtual information with real-life environments – is fast becoming one of the hottest mobile app trends of 2011.

Last year, we reported on the release of Plane Finder AR, an augmented reality-based project for plane spotters, which tracks planes in the sky in real-time.

This year, Copenhagen Airport has embraced the trend, having just upgraded its phone app, “CPH Airport” with this state-of-the-art technology.

The app helps passengers with iPhones to navigate the terminal more efficiently with real-time access to information on airport services.

By using an iPhone’s camera to “scan” their surroundings, the app’s augmented reality or “live view” mode illustrates points-of-interest in the terminal on-screen –  such as check-in desks, shops, cafes, restaurants and gates and how far away they are. It also allows passengers to see how other users have rated the stores and dining establishments.

Due to the signalling limitation of using GPS tracking indoors, passenger locations are being monitored over the airport’s WiFi network. This is how the user’s location is discovered and relevant information is shared.

A spokesperson for SITA – the air transport IT provider whose research group, “SITA Lab” is behind the innovation –  says the app does not yet display retail offers.

However, in future, augmented reality could provide passengers with the latest duty free promotions.

It could also offer real-time information ranging from the length of security queues, to which airport lounges are the busiest – helping passengers to make more informed choices.

Commenting on the new app, Christian Poulsen, IT director of Copenhagen Airports A/S, said: “More than 100,000 users have downloaded our iPhone app so far, and we’ve had good feedback from passengers. That’s why we’ve decided to take the next step now and upgrade the app to also include an augmented reality function.”

Copenhagen Airport’s enhanced app can be downloaded here and is free.


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