The UK’s Heathrow Airport has extended its use of iris-scanning technology to speed up immigration checks at Terminal 1.
The Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) is a system being piloted at the airport as part of the Home Office e-Borders program. Individuals signed up to the scheme will be able to walk up to an automated barrier, look into a camera, and if the system recognizes them, enter the UK.
The biometric technology works by photographing a passenger’s iris patterns and storing the data in a database, together with their passport details. Only those individuals who have had their details authenticated by an immigration officer are able to use the technology. As no two iris patterns are alike, the system will quickly and securely recognize each registered individual when they look into the camera.
Speaking at the launch, Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said, With over 97 million people entering the UK in 2005, it is important that the UK remains at the forefront of the latest technology in immigration controls and the Government’s commitment to project IRIS demonstrates that.
He continued, Secure and effective border controls are vital to safeguard our citizens against terrorism, serious and organized crime and illegal immigration, while at the same time facilitating entry for legitimate travellers.
Terminal 1 is the third terminal at Heathrow to benefit from the new technology, which was introduced in Terminals 2 and 4 in June 2005.