Worldpay and Gatwick Airport today reported the innovative, albeit very different, ways they are putting augmented and virtual reality to work in a retail context.

Worldpay has unveiled a virtual reality proof of concept that enables shoppers to make seamless, secure payments in a virtual environment, while Gatwick Airport has installed 2,000 beacons powering an augmented reality wayfinding system that the airport can use to guide travellers through the airport and that retailers can potentially use to target individuals with promotional offers.

At Gatwick Airport, an indoor navigation system built on 2,000 low-energy beacons has been unveiled as part of the airport’s £2.5bn transformation programme. The ‘indoor blue dot’ system, managed by PointrLabs, is designed to make it easier for passengers to find their way around the airport and avoid missing flights using an augmented reality system that guides them to their destination via wayfinding directions shown on their smartphone camera view. While Gatwick won’t collect personal data from the system, ultimately it could be used by retailers, subject to consumer buy-in, to send retail offers to people as they pass the terminal’s shops, and by airlines to track down or remind late-running passengers.

Abhi Chacko, head of IT commercial & innovation at Gatwick Airport, said: “By providing the infrastructure we’re opening the door for a wide range of tech-savvy airport providers, including our airlines and retailers, to launch new real-time services that can help passengers find their way around the airport, avoid missing flights or receive timely offers that might save them money.

“We are proud to be the first airport to deploy augmented reality technology and we hope that our adoption of this facility influences other airports and transport providers so that it eventually becomes the norm.”

Meanwhile, the Worldpay prototype demonstrates how shoppers operating within a virtual environment can use a Host Card Emulation (HCE) system to visualise the payment process, with EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) technology enabling payments…