Cubic developing subway ticketing system that uses facial recognition, palm vein scanning

September 25, 2017 - 

Cubic Transportation Systems, the US firm that developed London’s Oyster card technology, is developing new ticketing systems that use facial recognition, palm vein scanning and object tracking in order to reduce queues.

According to a report in Wired, Cubic’s biometric ticketing system is designed to alleviate congestion at ticket gates by removing the gates all together.

The company’s prototype for the “FasTrack” gateless gate system uses an object tracking system to track passengers as they walk through.

“The ridership on public transportation is due to grow,” says Dave Roat, strategy manager at Cubic. “How do we deal with the growth in capacity and help enable passenger flow through stations?”

Commuters present their ticket at a next-generation validator machine, which accepts Oyster cards and contactless cards, but also works with some alternative payment methods such as Bluetooth LTE, palm vein scan and facial recognition.

Using an infrared sensor, the palm vein scanner captures the pattern of blood vessels in the user’s hand.

Cubic said the commuter would be able to register their palm print and link it to their payment account, allowing the scanner to recognize their palm and charge their account.

With the facial recognition system, users would be required to register their face as their ticket, which allows cameras and infrared sensors at the gate to detect commuters when they pass through and charge their payment account. The system’s use of infrared sensors prevents it from being duped by a 2D image.

The object tracking system recognizes when an individual validates their ticket and tracks them as they walk through the corridor, which is used instead of a single gate line to make more room for people.

In the prototype, lights in the tunnel turn green if a commuter has paid and switches to red if they have not yet paid.

The company is currently testing out various feedback to determine whether a sound, a voice or a vibrating floor tile would be most effective.

At some London stations, commuters are required to show their payment card at an Oyster terminal before and after travelling, but do not have to pass through gates.

Commuters are charged the maximum fare if they forget to tap in or out. As a result, Cubic’s system could remind them to pay.

Although the system might not deter individuals from boarding without paying, it could alert operators of where and when the majority of people are not paying fares, which would allow them to send more employees to those hotspots.

Cubic said it is hoping to deploy the gateless tracking system at a UK station within the next year, however, Roat said that the system won’t be using facial recognition for a while as it is not accurate enough.

There are also concerns about the security risks involved with the public submitting their biometric data, which would require the transit authority to implement strict security and privacy controls before providing the gateless ticketing system.

Roat said that customers’ attitudes may shift as facial recognition is used in more frequently, but he believes that commuters would always have several ticket options.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.