Houston airports debut first app-free indoor mobile navigation

Dive Brief:

  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston began providing an indoor navigation service to help smartphone users find their way to gates, ground transportation, ticket kiosks, shops, restaurants and security checkpoints, according to a press release by the airport system. The turn-by-turn wayfinding technology developed by San Francisco’s LocusLabs doesn’t require a separate app download to work on smartphones, the first of its kind in the world, per the press release.
  • By visiting the website fly2houston.com on a mobile browser, a traveler can see a map of the airports that indicates a user’s location with a blue dot. As a person walks around, the navigation tool provides live directions on the quickest way to reach a destination inside the airport. It also shows the estimated time needed to walk to the endpoint.
  • The Houston Airport System, which runs the facilities, said airport maps are some of the most frequently visited pages on the fly2houston.com website. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is the 14th busiest in the U.S. and 43rd busiest in the world with 41.6 million passengers a year, according to Airports Council International. William P. Hobby Airport had 12.9 million visitors last year.

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DFW first US airport to introduce food ordering through its mobile app

Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport is the first in the US to introduce mobile food ordering. Travellers can now order and pay using the official DFW mobile app. M2mobi has implemented the new feature for both the iOS and Android versions of the app.

The pre-order functionality is part of DFW’s ongoing efforts to improve passengers’ experience, and make its services more accessible. In the DFW app, visitors can order food directly from the list of over 20 restaurants with the green ‘mobile ordering’ icon. The app also makes it easy to pay in advance. Once travellers place their order, they receive a confirmation and it appears in their ‘order history’. The app then navigates users to the restaurant of their choice.

“The passenger journey is going to change drastically the coming years. These kind of innovations are a good start for making your journey more delightful,” comments Michiel Munneke, Director, M2mobi.

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LocusLabs takes the challenge of mapping the Great Indoors

Campbell Kennedy has been known to push a baby stroller over every navigable inch of an airport, but the “baby” is a piece of mapping technology.

“It maps out an entire floor plan,” he said.

Kennedy got into the mapping trade when his startup, 510 Systems, acquired Google Street View as a customer; in turn, Google acquired 510 Systems.

Three years ago, he decided to tackle a harder task — indoor mapping – and founded LocusLabs.

“Indoor mapping is harder because there’s no GPS, and things are always being moved around,” Kennedy said.

Apple and Google have been slow to rise to the challenge of indoor mapping on their apps. But at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced a shift in focus for Apple Maps to indoor spaces such as airports and shopping malls.

LocusLabs is working with both Apple and Google to ensure that travelers don’t waste time getting lost in airports.

Kennedy said the two companies provide the “you-are-here” blue dot. LocusLabs tells travelers where “here” is and what is around them.

Major airlines such as American, United and Lufthansa have embedded the maps in their mobile apps, but the management of the information is in the hands of the airport authority. “They control the space,” Kennedy said.

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