October 11, 2017 -
The Dubai International Airport is replacing facial recognition security booths with a virtual aquarium tunnel that will scan the faces and irises of passengers using up to 80 hidden cameras, according to a report by Interesting Engineering.
Passengers merely need to walk through the virtual aquarium tunnel and their faces and irises will automatically be scanned by the cameras.
The airport authority has not confirmed whether there will be a separate scanner for a suitcase, however, the Al Bayan News’ Twitter feed recently shared a video depicting a passenger walking through the tunnel with luggage.
According to the video, the exit to the tunnel will either display a green light indicating that the passenger has passed the test with a message “Have a nice trip,” or a red light that alerts officials to intervene and conduct a more thorough search.
“The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveller but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travellers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print,” Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs, said.
Since modern facial recognition systems require different perspectives of an individual’s face to make an accurate match, the aquarium tunnel features virtual fish swimming in multiple directions to encourage the passenger to glance in all directions.
The graphics in the tunnel can be customized to display other natural scenes, such as the desert or advertising. The Dubai International Airport will install these “virtual borders” at Terminal 3 by the end of summer 2018, then in phases up until 2020.
Passengers will be required to enroll their face scans at kiosks all over the airport before continuing through the process.
The new procedure aims to reduce the amount of time millions of passengers spend in security when passing through DIA, with numbers expecting to reach 120 million by 2020.
“This will also benefit stakeholders; now the traveler can spend more time shopping at duty-free, or avoid missing their flight due to long queues,” Al Hameeri said.
In addition to the tunnels, Emirates Group Security vice president Rabie Atieh said there are other new devices that will be tested and installed to combat the threat of terrorism.
“Every year there are new challenges,” Atieh said. “We try to anticipate and face a threat before it happens.”
In June, UK-based ObjectTech signed an agreement with Dubai’s Immigration and Visas Department (GDRFA) to test its ‘gate-less’ border technology, which combines biometric verification and blockchain technology.