Facial Recognition App Could Speed Up Air Travel Experience

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We all know it can be a hassle to wait in the long lines or constantly be asked to show our documents at the airport, but a new program hopes to streamline the process through facial recognition.

Neville Pattinson, senior vice president of government programs at Gemalto, presented Fly to Gate during a panel at SXSW. It’s an entirely self-service application that uses facial recognition to verify a passenger’s identity from check in to the security checkpoint.

“My goal right now is to really improve the travel experience,” he said.

Gemalto, a company focused on digital security worldwide, partnered with IER to create the program.

“The whole point of biometrics is that we’re adding another tool, another technique into the use of the travel industry,” Pattinson said. “Instead of using a document now, we can use the fact that it’s you that should be traveling. We’re making sure the document you present is you and you belong to it – therefore, we’re just adding another layer of security into the system but also convenience. Once we have that facial image, we can create that token of you, rather than you having to present your documents all the time or boarding passes.”

Pattinson explained how the information from a passport can be used through the app.

“There’s an electronic chip in your passport that has exactly the same data as what’s on your printed page,” he said. “But it’s also digitally signed by the government. Now we’re taking that just from the document to who you are – the person.”

He says the idea is meant to be efficient – passengers can take a selfie on the program and Fly to Gate stores the information that is crosschecked with passport information and other documents.

One audience member during Pattinson’s  panel asked about how this would impact security checkpoints where passengers still have to take their shoes off and get bags scanned.

“We’re not here to solve people carrying articles they shouldn’t be carrying,” Pattinson said. “That’s still going to be needed. As trusted as you can be, they can’t trust you enough.”

Right now, Fly to Gate isn’t available in any Texas airports, but Pattinson says companies are working to partner with airlines to eventually bring this to passengers.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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