Computer Business Review

Facial Recognition to Span All Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport will start a comprehensive roll out of biometrics technology next summer, bringing facial recognition to each point of the departing passenger’s journey, from check-in, bag drop and security clearance, to boarding.

The £50 million project, touted by the airport as the world’s largest biometrics roll out, looks to cut down on physical documents required to get through the various airport stages and speed up the transition of travellers.

The airport will be working with a number of companies for the rollout, it confirmed to Computer Business Review, including Yoti and camera provider Aurora. 

Digital identity supplier Yoti will work with the airport for the system. An initial proof of concept at the airport allowed travellers to use the Yoti app to share both passport and biometrics information, with the option to check in before they arrive at the airport.

Heathrow confirmed to CBR that passengers can choose whether or not they use this biometrics check-in option.

It also said that the biometrics e-gates will continue to be optional, and passengers will still be able to pass through border control after manual passport checks.

“The long-term aim of the technology will be for passengers to be able to walk through the airport without breaking their stride,” Heathrow said in a statement.

“By offering passengers the option to use more instant facial recognition technology they will have the choice to streamline that process and collectively significantly reduce the amount of paper used when flying.”

Heathrow biometrics could allow “greater personalisation of passenger services”, the airport said, which may be useful for passengers requiring additional assistance.

Read more: How a Biometrics Attendance System will soon be the new norm

Heathrow also said that according to IATA research, 64 percent of passengers would choose to share their biometric data in exchange for a better travelling experience — suggesting over a third of us would not.

Next year’s follows trials of the new service this year, which the airport said have gone successfully. Heathrow has already been trialling facial recognition at e-gates for border entry and for domestic flights from the airport.

British Airways is among those to have trialled biometrics at US airports – reportedly an non-opt-out system.

Read more: GDS plans to increase AI, Biometrics use in public sector