Apple’s ibeacon tested at Heathrow by Virgin Atlantic

Consistent with its pattern of experimenting with technology, whether: it is the Google glass or Smart watches, Virgin Atlantic is now piloting Apple’s iBeacon technology in one of the largest trials till date.
Virgin Atlantic is making attempts to create a unique travel experience for its customers by using the Bluetooth low energy signals to create an indoor GPS, enabling indoor location aware services. With a number of iBeacons strategically installed across the airport, Virgin Atlantic fliers who are equipped with an electronic boarding pass via the Passbook app on their iPhone’s will be able to receive messages related to their location at London’s Heathrow airport.

The experience can be further elaborated with an example: An upper class passenger moving towards the private security channel will find their phone automatically pulling out their boarding pass for inspection. Or in the main area of the airport passengers can receive offers on currency exchange and similar services.

James Shanahan, Virgin’s head of e-business development said “We carefully assess new technologies that are out there and — as you can see from this and the Google Glass experiments — it’s very much about ensuring there is a customer benefit to deploying these technologies.There needs to be a solid rationale.”

The beacon experiment has been running for quite a few months now in collaboration between Virgin Atlantic and Apple Inc. Virgin’s passengers are early adopters to this experience and till now there has been no glitches or any negative feedback reported from the customers. Every few weeks Virgin Atlantic is introducing new elements to create a unique model of consumer experience through the airport using beacons.