Experts: More airlines eye use of biometrics

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JetBlue’s test of facial recognition on passengers who board one of its international flights might represent the launch of the airline industry’s adoption of the technology. Three aviation experts whom Consumers Digest interviewed say they believe that other airlines are evaluating the procedure.

Dr. James Wayman, who is the director of the Biometric Identification Research Program at San Jose State University, says two issues regarding the use of facial recognition on boarding passengers can be problematic: insufficient lighting and variances in how people face the system’s camera.

James Canham, who leads Accenture’s border-management and customs-agency service group, adds that attempts have been reported at so-called iris spoofing via people’s use of patterned contact lenses. “People have taken an image of another person’s iris, printed it on a film and attached it to a contact lens in hope of spoofing the system into making a false identification,” Canham says. As a result, the companies that provide the technology for iris identification are working on ways to counter spoof attempts. 

Wayman says Australia, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal and United Kingdom each has a system that uses biometrics technology in conjunction with passport control for travelers who travel out of the country.