There’s something fishy about Dubai Airport’s new screening process
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Starting next year, passengers at Dubai International Airport could transit security screening in one of the most unusual ways ever seen as it introduces new "smart tunnels" to tackle one of the most critical stages in the airport journey.
Passing through security channels after a long flight and waiting in line among hundreds of other passengers is one of the most frustrating parts of air travel. However, Dubai International intends to replace the soulless lines with interactive tunnels replicating an aquarium for passengers to move through.
At different stages in the tunnel, while enjoying glancing at the virtual fish floating by, 80 cameras will capture the passenger's face print and iris to check their credentials.
This new technology will be installed in Dubai's Terminal 3 during the summer of 2018, with the intention of enabling immigration checks to be completed in as little as 15 seconds. It will use passengers' registered iris and facial recognition details, which are checked as they walk through the tunnel.
Passengers will no longer need to undergo passport and immigration checks in the standard way.
In Dubai's example, the airport is using the aquarium to make the process more welcoming to passengers, replacing the sterile environment of immigration counter and body scanners in use today.
"The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveler but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travelers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print," said Dubai’s foreign affairs chief Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri.
To make use of the smart tunnel, passengers will need to register their details at dedicated 3-D scanning kiosks to create a digital profile.
Biometric scanning is not a new thing, but it has not yet become the norm. JetBlue has already trialed face-reading technology for contactless boarding at Boston Logan airport, and KLM intends to trial the technology as part of Amsterdam Schiphol’s pledge to become a leading digital airport by 2018.
The goal of airports and airlines is not only in propelling us toward a "Total Recall"-style future, but in improving the speed at which passengers are processed through the bottlenecks of security. It will inevitably reduce costs and allow airports to handle greater numbers of passengers. However the immigration officer role will not totally be removed, as the tunnel is able to present a red flag to any passengers whose details do not match for further screening by a human.
Expect more of the major hubs to announce their own biometric screening technology over the next year as they strive to remain competitive with passengers who dislike long lines at the airport, but welcome any option to add security measures. Ultimately, the technology will entirely replace the traditional screening process, creating a seamless process from checking-in, to boarding the aircraft and arriving at your destination.
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