updated 09:10 pm EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Alerts passengers to air delays, offers seat upgrades or changes, more
The latest company to announce the incorporation of Apple's iBeacon technology into its company workflow is European discount airline EasyJet, which announced on Monday that it will begin installing the devices in select airports in the UK and Europe to test effectiveness. It plans on rolling out the technology on a greater scale over the summer. Users of the just-updated EasyJet iOS app can opt to receive alerts from the "indoor GPS" hardware regarding flight changes and other information.
Apple's iBeacons have met with a surprisingly strong reception from retailers, sporting venues, other airlines and museums among other institutions and businesses. The small hardware devices, generally stuck on walls, uses a small battery and low-power Bluetooth 4.0 technology to detect when someone with a compatible smartphone app comes in range, and can alert the user with information or offers as desired.
The user controls when or if apps compatible with iBeacons alert them. The technology is similar to GPS alerts, but with a more precise range and intended to work mostly indoors, though facilities such as stadiums have also employed iBeacons to relay directions to seats, offer discounts on food or merchandise, and augment points of interest with background information.
An example that EasyJet might employ in its implementation is to alert the user upon entering the airport whether any relevant flight information has changed. Users could also be alerted of an opportunity for a seat upgrade or a final chance to select a seat, the approximate wait time to get through Customs and directions to a gate, among other examples.
Because the technology requires very little energy, the iBeacons work for months (or potentially years) without changing batteries, and there is no significant impact on the target smartphone's battery life either. The EasyJet app also supports the use of boarding passes through Passbook, and could incorporate iBeacon technology to automatically bring up the pass when a user approaches the gate.