There’s something fishy about Dubai Airports new security technology

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Airports are finally moving away from Photo ID’s and passports and embracing new biometric and facial recognition technologies in order to speed up the flow of people and improve the customer experience, but some are worried about the privacy implications


 

Hot on the heels of other trials and roll outs by Australia and South China Airlines, Dubai International Airport (DXB) has decided that it too wants to use biometric and facial recognition technology to speed up the airport experience, but as always they’re adding a twist – they’re going to let travellers clear security by letting them walk through a virtual aquarium lined with facial recognition cameras.

 

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According to their announcement the virtual aquarium is shaped like a tunnel, and outfitted with over 80 cameras in all that can scan faces and irises as passengers walk through, and as you’d expect the images inside the tunnel can be changed to show different things, adverts, camels, landscapes, that sort of stuff, and once a traveller reaches the end, they’ll either be cleared with the message “Have a nice trip,” or stopped with a red sign that will alert security.

 


 

The aquarium doesn’t just hide the facial recognition tech though, it’s a cunning way to encourage the traveller to look around and there by increase the quality of their face scan.

“The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveller but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travellers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his or her face print,” said Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, Deputy Director General of Dubai Residency and Foreign Affairs.

 

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The project is being developed in a partnership with the airline Emirates and DBX plans to install the first of these virtual walkways by the end of summer 2018 at Terminal 3, with other terminals following in phases until 2020.

The idea came about when officials were considering how to manage the growing number of passengers passing through Dubai each year, with 124 million expected to pass through all Dubai airports by 2020.

However, while facial recognition looks like it will one day become the de facto tool at airports to speed up the movement of things and people, for example’s Delta Airlines bag drops, there are an increasing number of people who are worried about the privacy implications, and with China announcing that they can spot not just criminals, but people with criminal intent, from just a photo, new facial recognition systems that can spot guilt, and figure out your “character,” and other “pre-crime” systems they might have a point.

 

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That said though, it’s a problem that might not be around for long, because now that we’ve ascertained that people’s brainwaves are have unique fingerprints, and we can pull secrets directly out of their heads, the move from facial recognition systems to brainwave recognition systems might not take as long as it did for us to move away from plain old photo ID’s. Happy days.

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