As we’ve reported in the Atlas last year, airports across the world have been introducing a slew of biometric tools and other technology to improve security and expedite long lines. Well, a lot has happened in a year. Below are some of the impressive developments happening at airports worldwide — and at a major hotel chain.
Now if only something could be done about those plastic security trays at screening checkpoints, which researchers just discovered harbor more germs than toilets!
3-D X-ray technology
What it is: Computed tomography (CT) X-rays for screening carry-on baggage. Instead of the two images produced by existing X-ray machines, these new CT devices shoot hundreds of images of a bag from different angles and offer vastly improved views. In fact, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske said the new scanners are capable of detecting a wider range of explosives and that someday they may be able to be programmed to automatically detect liquid explosives and weapons.
Where it can be found: Currently in 15 airports across the United States, including Phoenix Sky Harbor, Boston Logan, New York’s John F. Kennedy and Chicago O’Hare, with more to come. The TSA is so pleased with the technology it’s expanding its pilot program and increasing the number of scanners it initially intended to buy (which cost $300,000 apiece) from 145 up to 240, according to a CBS News report.
Facial recognition airport kiosks
What it is: Facial scanners that use an algorithm to match biometric markers of travelers’ faces to pictures on their passports, visas or other identifying travel documents. The technology is being employed for multiple uses in airports, from expediting check-in and boarding processes to speeding up immigration and security lines — and even nabbing fraudsters. In August 2018, only a few days after Washington Dulles International Airport began testing the technology, it helped to catch an impostor trying to enter the United States from Brazil with a fake French passport.
Where it can be found: The technology is being piloted at airports all over the world. Vision-Box, one of the biometric leaders, already has some form of its technology in more than 80 airports across the world.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is using the technology in its newest Terminal 4 for self-service check-in, luggage drop, immigration and boarding. But the award-winning airport wants to take it a step further with upgraded technology that’s capable of identifying individuals among the crowd to spot passengers who may have missed the last boarding call for their flight.
And Lufthansa recently tested facial recognition technology in Los Angeles International Airport to expedite aircraft boarding. Biometric boarding gates captured images of boarding passengers and crosschecked them with the Customs and Border Protection database. When it discovered a match, the traveler was allowed to enter the plane — all without needing to present their boarding pass or ID. During this trial, Lufthansa managed to get all 350 passengers onboard an Airbus A380 in about 20 minutes, which translates into roughly 3.5 seconds per passenger and half the time it usually takes.
Facial recognition hotel kiosks
What it is: Marriott International and Chinese tech giant Alibaba group recently announced a rollout of facial recognition software for hotel check-ins. While Marriott says the initiative is designed to improve the traditional check-in experience, claiming the new technology will reduce the time from three minutes to less than one, it also can add an additional layer of security. The way it works: Guests will need to scan their IDs, have their photo taken (say cheese!) and input contact details on an automated machine. The device will dispense room keys after verifying identities and booking information and then the guest can head up to their room.
Where it is: The technology is being tested at Marriott locations in Hangzhou and Sanya, China, before being rolled out elsewhere. And if it’s a success, we bet it’ll be popping up at other hotel chains, too!