APEX Insight: Bezel-less design featuring a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge Super Retina OLED display, dual 12-megapixel cameras on the rear and biometric technology called Face ID are some of the reasons Apple CEO Tim Cook called iPhone X: “The future of the smartphone.” APEX Media spoke to Kristian Gjerding, CEO of CellPoint Mobile, a company specializing in mobile-first payments, technologies and solutions for airlines and travel companies, to gather his thoughts on Apple’s latest smartphone and whether it represents the future of travel technology.
The iPhone X’s front-facing TrueDepth camera system, along with a dual-core Neural Engine on the six-core A11 Bionic chip, is what enables Apple’s Face ID technology to look at 30,000 points on a person’s face and recognize users, whether they’re wearing a hat, glasses or even growing a beard. According to Gjerding, it will propel biometric facial technology into the mainstream.
“It signals that consumers want their technology to make life easier and more seamless,” explains Gjerding. “We can see this with the growing popularity of voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo, which are completely changing user experience. For some, even swiping a screen is cumbersome and Face ID will change how we interact with our device.”
“Biometric technology may be entering the mainstream, but the travel sector will have to catch up to the mobile consumer at a faster pace – and it will.” – Kristian Gjerding, CellPoint Mobile
Gjerding says passengers will increasingly come to expect quick, simple and convenient transactions as standard using the same technology that is being applied to the iPhone X: “Biometric technology may be entering the mainstream, but the travel sector will have to catch up to the mobile consumer at a faster pace – and it will.”
Touch ID’s fingerprint scanners, which debuted on the iPhone 5S in 2013, had a one-in-50,000 chance of a security breach. According to Apple, Face ID improves upon this, lowering the risk to one in a million. But is that secure enough it be used as part of a universal government-recognized passenger ID? Not yet, according to Gjerding. While Face ID could find many uses in the commercial travel sector, a one-in-a-million chance of failure means Face ID doesn’t meet the higher-security standards needed at most airports and for government applications, and probably won’t for some time.
“The idea of a universal passenger ID is clearly where the travel sector is headed, and Face ID is a positive step in that direction.” –Kristian Gjerding
“That is still too high a security risk for governments to entrust consumer-grade technology to immigration and security checks, even if the manufacturer is Apple. The first thing reviewers did with the iPhone X was test whether Face ID could be fooled, and it wasn’t hard to fool using twins, for example. Governments can’t take that risk when dealing with passports and international security,” he says. “But the idea of a universal passenger ID is clearly where the travel sector is headed, and Face ID is a positive step in that direction.”
Gjerding thinks that, for airports willing to innovate, Face ID could be complementary to their current e-gate infrastructure. The iPhone X also presents opportunities for travel technology and services, he says. Unlike risk-averse governments, Gjerding thinks odds of a one-in-a-million risk of failure represent a high security standard for consumer-facing companies. “Face ID could be used, for example, to verify hotel guests with wireless keys and streamline or eliminate check-in and check-out processes, or to verify customers for a call center,” he says. “At this nascent stage, iPhone X represents new possibilities for travel technology and services, but it will take more time to fully develop and may rely on other innovations such as blockchain technology.”
Gjerding says next-generation smartphones have already influenced the direction of CellPoint Mobile’s solutions and that any biometric development will become a component of the company’s security layer and the functionality that it offers to its clients. “CellPoint Mobile must keep pace with developments in consumer technology, and the iPhone X and Face ID represent new possibilities for how travel merchants do business,” he says. “For now, this is more vision than reality and reviews (and criticisms) of the iPhone X and Face ID will help improve and develop how we adapt the technology.”