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Emirates Biometric Path | Airlines NewsPassengers using Emirates Airlines in Dubai will soon enjoy a ‘biometric path’ according to recent promises from the airline, who have installed the latest biometrics technology in Terminal 3 at DXB.

The passenger journey from check-in to The Emirates Lounge at Dubai International will soon be guided by a single biometric profile using facial recognition and iris scanning technology. This will mean that passengers will then be able to proceed through all the necessary check-in and security processes without further documentation or hold-ups. Premium passengers will still be able to use accelerated check-in in the Emirates Lounge in Concourse B.

The Smart Tunnel has been launched by Emirates in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs in Dubai and is a world-first initiative. Passengers walk through the tunnel with no intervention from airport officials and are cleared biometrically. The current trials will continue to run internally, and wider testing will be announced once the initial trials are complete.

Emirates’ brand promise of ‘Fly Better’ will be further strengthened by the rollout of the biometric trials within T3 and the airline looks forward to analysing the new data and inviting consumer feedback.

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Biometric Airport Technology | Airports NewsSince biometrics were introduced to the US airports market more than a decade ago, the uptake has still been pretty slow in adopting broad biometric measures.

Recently however, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been making sounds in favour of the introduction of greater levels of biometric technology across the country, particularly facial recognition.

How does facial biometric recognition work?

Facial biometric recognition technology can process information quickly – near real-time – and unobtrusively within the airport environment.

In simple terms, the way the system works places a camera within the airport, typically at passport control or other security area, and compares a live image of the travellers’ face with their travel documentation to determine an exact feature match. Using an automated biometric facial matching identification system, the process can be completed in seconds, speeding up the system of passenger processing significantly.

This increased efficiency is key to improving airport operations, particularly when integration with other airport systems can take place.

The trouble is that in the US, governments and departments cannot decide whether investment into biometric technology, both financial and resources, is for the public or the private sector. However, inroads are being built, as the CBP has announced the intention to use biometrics for foreign nationals leaving the US.

There is little doubt across the aviation industry, particularly within the commercial airlines sector, that biometric technology is the way forward for airport security and borders management. One of the key factors in favour of biometrics, aside from the efficiency factor, is the elimination of potential human error in checking travel documentation.

Travellers, according to the experts, could expect to be using their faces as boarding passes within the next three to five years, once infrastructural and operational challenges and investments can be shaken out within the industry. As passenger experience seems to be high on the agenda for the major players in the industry, biometric technology could be a real possibility.

Airports around the globe are pushing forward with self-service solutions to make passenger experience better, and to allow greater flexibility for resource and personnel management within the airport environment.

In addition to self-service check-in and baggage handling, the future of aviation travel may involve complete automation using the next generation of biometrics to handle passenger security screening, passport control and data sharing with government departments and agencies.

Rockwell Collins is a major player in the airports infrastructure sector, and has been working on and thinking about innovations in biometrics and identity management for almost a decade.

The use of biometrics, and in particular facial recognition technology, is faced with challenges in the aviation industry, quite aside from the privacy and data sharing issues that continue to be hotly debated around the world.

According to the Director of Strategic Programs for Rockwell Collins’ Global Airports business, Mr Tony Chapman, ‘Everyone is looking for something more unique than facial features. It’s good, but you have to look at the camera.’

Although the idea of complete, biometrics-powered automation is still some years away, it is good to know that some of the biggest innovators in the world are working towards a solution.