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Airports and biometrics providers work towards relaunch with contactless “new normal”

Airports and biometrics providers work towards relaunch with contactless “new normal”

Melbourne-area Avalon Airport has expanded its partnership with Elenium Automation to implement the company’s full suite of biometrics and other technology for touchless self-service throughout the airport as part of its COVID-19 response.

Patent-pending technology for Elenium will be used for performing bag drops with kiosks through head movements instead of touch-screens, while passport screening will be conducted by the traveller holding the document up, rather than inserting it in a machine. The full suite also includes voice recognition in multiple languages, developed in partnership with Amazon Web Services.

Elenium recently announced the deployment of technology that screens body temperature and heart and respiration rate for tests by Etihad Airlines.

“While this is very difficult time for the aviation industry, we have an opportunity to make the changes for passenger safety and well-being that will increase their confidence. We are very excited that Avalon is working with us to ensure the airport is in a great position to rebound from this crisis by giving their passengers and team a streamlined, safe airport experience,” says Elenium Automatio CEO and Co-founder Aaron Hornlimann.

“We believe the introduction of touchless self-service will encourage people to return to travel.”

Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings says the partnership shows how quickly COVID-19 mitigation methods can be put in place.

Sita explores near future of airport tech

Sita has published what it calls a positioning paper on how new technologies and processes will help shape the resumption of air travel.

A ‘New Normal:’ The Changing Face of Air Transport Post-COVID-19” notes IATA’s April estimate that the air travel industry will lose $314 billion in revenue to the pandemic in 2020, a drop of 55 percent compared to last year, and Sita’s own data shows a near-80 percent drop in flights globally, and 90 percent in Europe, for the month of April, compared to 2019.

Sita says economic pressures, safety and security concerns that now include health, and sustainability will be the major impact areas for the industry.

Touchless technologies, including biometrics, take a prominent place in Sita’s vision. The company points to its Sita Flex technology, which enables agents to use airline applications on mobile devices and has been used at San Francisco Airport, and processes based on travellers’ mobile devices as key parts of that vision. The biometric self-service Sita Smart Path solution and its new WorldTracer mishandled baggage recovery tool are also discussed.

Sita has introduced its Omnichannel Cloud Communications solution to enable more staff to work remotely, and airline fleet refreshes will also increase the penetration of digital technology into all areas of the aviation experience.

Heathrow launches facial recognition thermal detection trial

Heathrow Airport, meanwhile, has announced trials of facial recognition and thermal screening to detect people with COVID-19, among other technologies.

Technologies and processes that could eventually be the basis for a “Common International Standard” for health screening at international airports will be trialled, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Transportation Committee of the UK’s House of Commons, according to an announcement by the airport.

Facial recognition thermal screening technology for accurate body temperature tracking will be reviewed in a test at Terminal 2 beginning in the next two weeks. The technology will be deployed at immigration checking areas, and expanded to departures, connections, and other areas if succesful. Temperature checks are already required by some countries, and Heathrow will have to follow international standards in the implementation, the announcement notes.

Contact-free security screening hardware and UV sanitation will also be considered.

Veridium CEO James Stickland recently argued in a Biometric Update guest post that a strategic approach to deploying biometrics for touchless authentication in airport settings will be necessary to combat the safety concerns the pandemic has placed on the travel industry.

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