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Face-recognition technology makes air travel safer

Photonics Spectra
Sep 1997
Ruth A. Mendonsa

Today more than ever, security is a primary concern for airport and airline personnel and -- most of all -- for passengers.


The system ensures that only passengers who have checked their luggage can enter the departure lounge and board the aircraft, and that only luggage from boarding passengers is loaded into the cargo area.

Thanks to an airport security system that uses face recognition technology from Visionics Corp., passengers flying out of Malaysia's 16 airports can worry a lot less about who or what is on the plane.

TL Technology Research, a Malaysian-based airport security system developer, has implemented Visionics' FaceIt face recognition technology and has come up with what the companies say is the world's first biometrics-based airline passenger and baggage security system.

No match, no ride

A lipstick-size camera at the baggage check-in desk captures live video of the passenger and embeds the data on a smart-card chip manufactured by a Malaysian company called IRIS Technologies. The chip is embedded on the boarding pass and on the luggage claim checks.

The system ensures that only passengers who have checked their luggage can enter the departure lounge and board the aircraft, and that only luggage from boarding passengers is loaded into the cargo area. During the boarding process, the system automatically and instantly checks a real-time image of a passenger's face against that on the boarding pass smart chip. No luggage is loaded unless there is a match.

The FaceIt engine is a self-determining system. It decides what the important features are in a particular face using hands-off head-finding capabilities. Passengers need not stop and look at the camera. In fact, the tiny camera is hardly noticeable. FaceIt operates with live video in ambient light and ignores such features as hair length or facial hair, which are easy to alter.

TL Technology Research chose the FaceIt engine because it can find heads anywhere in the field of view automatically; it can even perform recognition on a person who is walking.

Visionics says FaceIt software can be used in many applications, including continuously monitoring who is in front of a computer terminal. It allows the user to leave the terminal without closing files and logging off. When the user leaves for a predetermined time, a screen saver covers the work and disables the keyboard and mouse. When the user returns and is recognized, the screen saver clears and the work appears as it was left. There is no wasted time and no security lapse.


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