Skift Take

Big Brother is already watching. He may as well help get us to our destination quicker, and with less hassle, while he's at it.

Advancements in biometric technology won’t revolutionize travel, they already have. What awaits us is further enhancement, greater sophistication, and ultimate invisibility.

Human Recognition Systems, experts in biometric technology, who work with leading airports around the world, predict that in the very near-term future airport security will be invisible—and right in your face. Successful trials of advanced distance iris, gait, and facial recognition systems have already been deployed, including two key programs at London Gatwick.

Experts in biometric technology and aviation trends agree that biometrics will play a key role in our daily lives over coming years and govern everything we do in the terminal—from how we park our cars and how we pay for our coffee to how we board our aircraft. But the prime objective of biometric technology at airports is to ensure that travel remains safe and secure for travellers, and that border control is effective and seamless.

Human Recognition System’s MFlow is designed to meet those safety and security objectives, without redundant screening or interactions with security personnel. Passive facial recognition and remote iris reading store passengers’ facial features as they enter the airport and track them along their journey.

Using advanced biometric recognition systems, MFlow’s tiny cameras can follow our movements through the terminal at all times. The MFlow system ensures that the passenger who checks-in is the same passenger boarding the aircraft. It can also gather passenger flow information at the terminal to gauge where queues are slow, helping the airport better plan gate-points and navigation through the airport.

Gatwick Airport had a particularly tricky situation to manage at its Common User Lounge in the South Terminal, where domestic and international passengers intermingle. The airport needed to ensure that passengers moved on to zones which corresponded to their original travel plans, without cumbersome duplication of security screening. This was the brief for the South Terminal MFlow implementation.

Each passengers’ unique iris patterns are captured once and matched to their boarding pass, to avoid any passenger swapping passes with another. Using MFlow to track that information, it eased the flow of passengers through the terminal and eliminated the need to search and check passengers a second time.

To simplify the passenger flow at the North Terminal, London Gatwick deployed Human Recognitions Systems’ point-to-point biometric solution. It allows passengers on select flights to check-in using designated self-service bag drops, and register their biometric identity through iris image capture. Passengers can then pass through automated self-service gates to board their aircraft, validating their access through iris recognition and the boarding card.

Jim Slevin, Managing Director of Aviation for Human Recognition Systems, believes the future of biometrics in air travel is secure. As he indicates: “It is entirely achievable for those that are content and happy to gain the utility of a non-stop process in return for sharing their biometric and identity details to permit ‘on the fly’ capture and processing of identity, be that through wearable, mobile or static systems.”

Biometrics experts involved in airport terminals programs share a vision of an automated seamless experience governed by biometric data to validate travel with a comprehensive advanced security IT infrastructure. The trials of Human Recognition systems at Gatwick, and a number of biometric innovations from other service providers, like Vision-Box, lay the foundation for reliable security in this seamless future.

A number of biometrics experts, who follow the implementation of those systems at airports around the world, agree that there will be few passenger objections to this technology. Tony Chapman, Senior Director, Integrated Travel Solutions at ARINC, believes that passenger’s main objections would be to physically intrusive technology—that is biometric readings which require passengers to touch a device. The remote capture used by Human Recognition Systems, and other emerging technologies, eliminate this intrusion and will make biometrics easier for passengers to accept.

Ultimately, biometrics experts are banking on our need for convenience. They believe the benefits of a simplified travel process using this invisible, unobtrusive, biometric security far outweigh any privacy concerns.

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Tags: biometrics

Photo credit: Security Checkpoint at Gatwick's South Terminal. Gatwick Airport

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