Virgin Atlantic will trial Apple's iBeacon technology at Heathrow airport

Apple's iBeacon to guide Virgin customers at Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic will introduce Apple iBeacon technology at Heathrow allowing users to receive location-sensitive notifications on their iPhones when moving through the airport.

The technology combines geofencing - a technology based on a location sensor - bluetooth and physical devices transmitting a signal and sending notifications when the iPhone user enters their field of reach.

Apple has already begun using the technology in its retail stores in the USA, sending customers information about offers when they walk into the store.

But this is the first time the technology will be applied on a large scale in the UK.

Combined with the Apple Passbook app, which stores digital versions of tickets and loyalty cards, users of the new Virgin system will receive notifications on their phone reminding them to have their tickets ready when they reach airport security, or informing them about exchange rate offers when they enter duty free.

Reuben Arnold, brand and customer engagement director at Virgin Atlantic said: "At this stage, we've only skimmed the surface on the advantages that this technology can offer our customers.

"In the future, we expect it to further personalise our passenger's journey, such as notifying an Upper Class passenger that there is an open appointment in the Clubhouse spa or introducing the crew members on their flight as they board the aircraft.

"Our passengers are increasingly more connected as they travel and by using advanced technology we can improve customer experience and continue to put innovation at the heart of the flying experience."

Virgin Atlantic has previously experimented with wearable technology in the form of the Google Glass headset, using it to help staff know more about upper class passengers. As the clients arrived at the airport, the personnel would have all their travel information on the device right in front of their eyes and would thus be able to provide a better customer service.

Google Glass is not yet available as a consumer product, but companies and individual explorers have been sought out by Google to test out the hardware as it develops.

Developers working on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset believe that it too could find use in the tourism industry, with the holiday search engine Skyscanner recently hosting an event in London where it demonstrated the device's ability to simulate holiday destinations so users could preview them before they booked.

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