Image: Adrian Chew

APEX Media: Biometric technology took center stage on the Future Travel Experience Asia 2016 showroom floor. Iris scanning, speech recognition and DNA sampling are among the procedures that can make air travel a safer and more seamless experience. 

A quick tour of the Future Travel Experience Asia floor reveals that a new age of biometrics, using travelers’ unique physical characteristics as ID, promises to make air travel a faster and more secure experience.

Fingerprint or Iris Scan

Clear, a third-party program approved by the Transportation Security Administration, enables travelers to skip long lines for a faster private lane. They use biometric scanning technology to automate the standard identity confirmation process at airports. Clear travelers still go through security, but they don’t have to pull out their passport or boarding pass to clear the checkpoint. Airlines see the benefits too. Delta offers a Clear membership to their top-tier flyers, and Alaska Airlines has partnered with the company to provide the option of fingerprint scanning over showing a boarding pass.

Facial Recognition

Naples International offers passengers holding a European Union biometric passport a fast track through the airport. Using facial recognition, SITA’s iBorders automated border control gates validate a traveler as the authentic holder of their passport. In Aruba, KLM has teamed with Queen Beatrix International Airport to offer Happy Flow, a Vision-Box system that enables KLM travelers flying to Amsterdam to show their passport just once, from curb to aircraft.

SITA’s Smart Path solution and Rockwell Collins’ ARINC vMUSE with Atkins Identity Management toolkit allow passengers to walk through the airport using facial recognition (sometimes in combination with fingerprint and iris scanning) to validate their identity at checkpoints. This single-passenger token system is one that Hamad International Airport has expressed interest in adopting and Singapore Changi’s new Terminal 4 will showcase it in 2017, using Safran’s Morpho solution.

Speech Recognition

Biometric identification is usually associated with security, but Delta Air Lines worked with Nuance Communications to implement speech recognition technology to add a touch of personalization to its helpline. Delta’s customer service representatives can greet callers by name and check callers’ flight statuses based on their SkyMiles profile.

DNA Sample

As of this year, Kuwait has been approved to take visitors’ saliva or blood samples at Kuwait International Airport to identify incoming visitors as a preventative measure to terrorism.

Caroline is managing editor at APEX Media.