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Facial recognition system could speed boarding at Narita airport

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    A facial recognition system called OneID will be used at Narita International Airport to help expedite boarding time. The system will allow passengers to board without having to present passports or boarding passes. Tiandy Technology’s surveillance camera and facial-recognition system captures a man’s features.

TOKYO >> Passengers will be able to board planes faster without having to present passports or boarding passes, thanks to a new facial recognition system.

Narita will be the first airport in Japan to deploy the system, called OneID, ahead of an expected spike in foreign arrivals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a presentation by developer NEC Corp., current boarding procedures were streamlined by the system. First, at a self check-in machine, passengers gave consent for their passports to be scanned, and a barcode on their smartphone screens provided flight details. A camera captured their facial images during the process. The data was then linked together and stored in an authentication system.

Passengers who wish to use the conventional procedure will still be allowed to do so, according to NEC.

The system also allows passengers to drop off their baggage at an automated check-in terminal equipped with a facial recognition camera. These passengers can proceed to an area for safety inspections and walk through the boarding gates without stopping for their passports or boarding passes to be checked. Narita’s immigration control, however, will maintain its existing procedures.

Tatsuya Hamada, senior vice president of Narita International Airport Corp., the airport’s operator, said enhancing operational efficiency is one of the company’s primary challenges.

A surge in the number of foreign visitors to Japan is exacerbating congestion at Narita terminals, contributing to customer dissatisfaction and flight delays. Higher efficiency is also crucial to meeting the tight flight schedules of low-cost carriers.

Hamada said NEC’s OneID can boost the on-time performance of flights, reduce passenger stress and save on labor “while retaining or even raising the level of security at the airport,” due to the system’s sophisticated identity verification technology.

The speed of the entire process could be 50% to 100% faster, according to the company.

The biometric screening system, which will cover Japanese and non-Japanese passengers, will be introduced in spring 2020 for flights operated by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

The government is aiming to increase the number of foreign visitors per year to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, from a record of 31.19 million in 2018.

Yutaka Ukegawa, senior vice president at NEC, said the company intends to expand the use of its facial recognition technology to operations such as commuter pass purchases and shopping at duty-free shops.

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