Every second matters when you are at a busy airport. Parked aircraft, waiting for their upcoming flights, cost airlines dearly as they have to pay high charges for using an air terminal's facilities and services. So, the collective slowing down of passenger movement from one point to another takes a heavy toll on both airports and air carriers. Passengers are also inconvenienced as they have to get their documents verified at multiple points before boarding their planes.
Given the need for speedy document processing, it is surprising that on-the-spot snapshots have not been considered to fast-forward long passenger queues. However, several airports and airlines are now opting for facial recognition technology to expedite travel processes. Over the past month, Lufthansa and Miami International Airport (MIA) set up a biometric exit system to let passengers board a flight using their photographs instead of traditional boarding passes. It is completely hassle-free as a passenger has to stop for only a couple of seconds to get a photograph taken at Lufthansa's boarding gate to confirm his/her identity. "I look forward to seeing biometric exit technology expand throughout MIA and enhance the level of customer service for its passengers," Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, told Airport World. The only concern: Such a simple process has necessitated tie-ups between so many agencies - MIA, Lufthansa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and SITA, a global leader in air transport communication and IT solutions.
In Japan, Narita International Airport will be the first hub to roll out the facial recognition system, according to Japan Times. High-performance cameras have been set up at self-check-in kiosks so that snapshots can be taken as people enter their passport and boarding details. Once that is done, they need not show their physical documents any more as facial recognition cameras at baggage drop-off points and security and boarding gates will track their movements and vet their identities. Immigration control will have to follow the traditional procedure, though. However, Narita plans to use a different facial recognition system for customs procedures. The airport piloted biometric e-gates last year and these are likely to become fully operational before the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. India will not be lagging behind either as the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru plans to start using the system sometime in 2019, as per media reports. And quite a few airlines have already come on board to partner with paperless boarding.
Although travellers are likely to enjoy paperless check-ins, some think it could lead to security issues, while privacy advocates are up in arms against facial recognition being used as a screening method. With so many agencies involved, there would undoubtedly be a huge tussle over who owns the data and how governments and non-government organisations intend to use it. On the other hand, facial recognition had previously helped arrest a person trying to travel on someone else's passport.
MR, 5G Walk the Ramp
Fashion and tech often go hand in hand. So, it is not surprising that mobile network operator Three UK recently teamed up with arts and design college Central Saint Martins to set up a 5G network for students in a bid to explore the convergence of art, fashion and design with technology. The network's debut was marked by a unique show that unleashed the imagination of fashion designers on the very first mixed reality runway at the recently held London Fashion Week.
Attendees had to wear Magic Leap headsets to experience how digital layers create immersive worlds to make fashion collections come to life. Magic Leap is a Florida-based technology start-up that has been pushing the frontiers of bridging the physical and the digital in ambitious projects, but most felt they could never come about. However, the celebrity audience at the show saw animated skulls, a roaring tiger, lightning bolts and other effects and objects projected over and moving with the models, adding a new dimension to the apparels displayed. Mixed reality, a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality, gets a turbo boost from 5G connectivity and works promptly in real time as it should, with no lag or stutter. Products and experiences based on this combination of technologies are slated to be available later this year.