Iris recognition looks set to revolutionise airports

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Eyes might be the window to the soul – but they’re also a great way to cut down waiting time at airports, a recent initiative at Gatwick has discovered.

Iris scanner

After finishing a trial of iris recognition technology, Gatwick Airport has set the path for the technology to make its mark in the future, with some estimating that these eye-scanners could become commonplace in as little as two years.

Its three months of testing concluded that the technology could cut the time between check-in and boarding the aircraft in half, as it can save every passenger about two minutes during their travel experience. That might not sound like much, but when you consider that the airport serves 55,000 people a day the benefits quickly become apparent.

Waiting times would drop dramatically as eye scanners eliminate the need for passengers to repeatedly show their identification at different points throughout security and boarding. Instead, the image of their iris would be automatically linked to their boarding pass.

Passengers would have the image taken as they initially check in for their flight. However, if passengers are only carrying hand luggage, their iris will be scanned as they go through security.

While testing the technology, Gatwick discovered that when it came to boarding the plane, the new technology saved at least 15 seconds for each passenger. That means aircrafts could be loaded 15-20 minutes quicker than usual, which potentially means the airport could allow more flights as a consequence.

Currently the system isn’t being used for international flights out of Gatwick, but it’s being kept for domestic travels. This is to deter illegal immigration by making it impossible for people to secretly switch boarding passes while they’re in the boarding lounge.

It remains to be seen how popular the system will be with passengers, although no major issues seem apparent which would stop it catching on. The technology is quick, non-invasive and ensures that every passenger is properly identified through every step of their journey through the airport.

Cut down on spending as well as waiting time in the airport by organising your travel money in advance. This not only saves you the hassle before your flight but also helps you avoid the most expensive rates.


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