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Heathrow Airport Is Latest To Adopt AR Tech In Bid To Engage Customers

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Travellers can interact with exclusive characters in the Pokemon Go-esque app

Heathrow has become the latest London airport to ride the wave of digital transformation with the introduction of an augmented reality (AR) based mobile app.

The airport has been working with UK-based company Ads Reality to make itself AR ready, with the goal being to use the technology to improve the customer experience and track footfall across the five terminals.

The app, called Around the World with Mr. Adventure, aims to entertain children and “encourage them to start their journey of exploration” in the airport.

Heathrow AR

AR entertainment

Much like the hugely popular Pokemon Go app, smartphone cameras will identify when a user has found one of five digital badges hidden around the terminals and will play a 3D animated video featuring  exclusive Mr Men and Little Miss characters.

Children and parents can take pictures with the characters and interact with them by scanning markers located around the airport.

“This is a fun and interactive experience that we’re rolling out with Heathrow and a chance for the airport to drive engagement and fun for passengers,” said Richard Corps, MD & co-founder of Ads Reality.

“We’re delighted that Heathrow sees the benefits of augmented reality to the customers they serve, and it’s a great example of a large company looking at innovative technology to drive an exciting customer experience.”

Heathrow will also use the technology to track the number of markers triggered, see which terminal had the most interactions and get insights into how the experience is shared on social media.

Iona Harper, Senior Experience Manager at Heathrow, said the airport wants to encourage discovery for “the next generation of explorers” and ensure that visitors “receive the best possible start to their holiday adventures”.

Heathrow is not the only airport making use of modern technology. London City airport, for example, is set to become the UK’s first airport to install a digital air traffic control tower, with controllers given access to high-definition viewing tools and real-time sensory data.

Furthermore, Gatwick has installed 2,000 beacons to power an indoor navigation system across its two terminals and recently hosted a a 48 hour ‘hackathon’ to find ways to improve the travel experience of passengers.

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