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Virgin Atlantic to Integrate iBeacon Technology Into London's Heathrow Airport

Virgin Atlantic is reportedly gearing up to integrate Apple's iBeacon technology into London's Heathrow Airport, according to Re/code. The airliner will be using beacons sourced from startup Estimote, as the transmitters will be deployed near businesses and terminals to notify users of promotional deals and areas of interest.

estimote_ibeacon
An Estimote Beacon
In one use case, passengers would receive an offer on their phone for no-fee currency exchange as they near that place of business. The program, which will utilize Apple’s iBeacon technology and the Passbook iOS app, follows a trial in which airline employees donned Google Glass as they greeted first-class passengers upon entering the airport.
First introduced during Apple's 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, iBeacons enable iOS devices to wirelessly communicate with physical beacons through Bluetooth, as the transmitters are able to deliver specific information to apps when a user is nearby.

iBeacon technology has also been utilized in a number of unique ways since the end of 2013. Shopping app Shopkick and Macy's teamed up to integrate the technology into stores to aide consumers, while Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have used iBeacons to provide enhanced in-stadium experiences. Apple has even implemented iBeacons into its own retail stores to provide customers with product information and deals, while a London-based cafe and the Consumer Electronics Show have also featured the technology.

Top Rated Comments

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8 months ago

I wonder if there's a jailbreak tweak to disable iBeacon reception.


You just demonstrate that like many people, you have not the slightest clue what iBeacons actually do.

An iBeacon transmits an ID and two numbers. For example, if Virgin Atlantic does this, then their iBeacons would transmit an ID that says "this is a Virgin Atlantic iBeacon", one number that says "this is London Heathrow", and another number that says "this is the beacon at the left corner of the Virgin Atlantic customer support booth".

In order for your iPhone to react to this, you need to install an application that _specifically_ watches out for Virgin Atlantic iBeacons. If you don't have such an app on your phone and actually run it, your iPhone will never detect that these beacons are there. If you don't want this, don't download the app, or don't run it.
Rating: 14 Votes
8 months ago
... so it's going to be a new way to show people advertising?

Why would anyone want this?
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
Just a new way to spam us with more crap. Great.
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
Pretty soon, thinking will be optional; all life's instructions will be 'spoon fed' to us, whether we like it or not….. :D
Rating: 7 Votes
8 months ago
So it's something an advertiser can attach to a wall that gives location specific information?

We have those already, they're called posters.
Rating: 6 Votes
8 months ago

Pretty soon, thinking will be optional; all life's instructions will be 'spoon fed' to us, whether we like it or not….. :D


The central computer does all our thinking then one day . . . it gains consciousness. That day we called "Judgement Day".
Rating: 4 Votes
8 months ago
I wonder if there's a jailbreak tweak to disable iBeacon reception.
Rating: 3 Votes
8 months ago

You just demonstrate that like many people, you have not the slightest clue what iBeacons actually do.


It seems you just demonstrated that you're a geek.
Hey great, it transmits IDs.. wow

Naive to think that it wouldn't be primarily used for advertising.

Now show us your RFID implant.
Rating: 3 Votes
8 months ago
The Home Depot app has the map of my local store in it. When I need something, I can ask for it (using voice) and it tells me where it is. Imagine instead of showing me the location by aisle number it guides me there. This technology has so many uses.

What about a grocery store. You put your shopping list in an app and it guides you to the store to each item without you having to backtrack or go down aisles with stuff you don't need.
Rating: 2 Votes
8 months ago

You just demonstrate that like many people, you have not the slightest clue what iBeacons actually do.

An iBeacon transmits an ID and two numbers. For example, if Virgin Atlantic does this, then their iBeacons would transmit an ID that says "this is a Virgin Atlantic iBeacon", one number that says "this is London Heathrow", and another number that says "this is the beacon at the left corner of the Virgin Atlantic customer support booth".

In order for your iPhone to react to this, you need to install an application that _specifically_ watches out for Virgin Atlantic iBeacons. If you don't have such an app on your phone and actually run it, your iPhone will never detect that these beacons are there. If you don't want this, don't download the app, or don't run it.


This is amazing. Why?

Say you're an international tourist (Heathrow gets millions every year) and you have no idea where to go in the airport. You will not have to ask anyone, you can just get your iPhone out, and use the app with the iBeacons to tell you where to go. And the App can be in a language other than English if need be as well. Also the App could show where you are exactly in the Airport as well.

Apart from that, the App could have info about the services that the part of the airport you want to go to has. For example, you want to go to the airport food court, the App would list all the food outlets there and what seating/table facilities the food court has. Or another example could be the flight times could be listed for the terminal you want to go to, so you don't have to always walk back to the flight time boards.

Even if you had staff to assist customers in getting around. the sheer number of customers makes this unfeasible to have staff doing this. Having an automated iBeacon system to have this automated (assuming the system can cope with the demand/load) would be amazing.

This would all run via wi-fi hotspots that would cover the entire airport I would assume.

There is literally no downsides to this.

The people who think iBeacons will be used for advertising, I disagree. The airport itself has enough advertising (so I've heard) in boards and signs. The iPhone App won't be filled with advertising as well (one would hope). There is no need for it.
Rating: 2 Votes

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