Malaysia-based airline AirAsia has launched a biometric boarding system based on facial recognition. The system has gone live at Senai International Airport, processing passengers for flights to and from Macau and Bangkok.
Aptly named FACES, for “Fast Airport Clearance Experience System”, it essentially replaces passengers’ travel documents with biometrics. Travelers place their passports at an automated kiosk, which scans their faces to create biometric profiles. From there, they can enjoy an expedited boarding process, with biometric scans identifying them as they approach their gates. AirAsia says has been reduced from somewhere between 11 to 13 minutes, to nine to 11 minutes.
FACES fits nicely into the larger trend of expanding use of biometric screening in border control, but it’s also unusual in the sense that, unlike many other prominent biometric airport screening programs around the world, FACES was a commercial sector initiative, with the system developed and fully owned by AirAsia. The head of Malaysia’s Immigration Department, meanwhile, has expressed a desire to work with AirAsia to see the system rolled out to further airports in the country.
Before that can happen, though, there might be a bit of turbulence, with the New Straits Times reporting that FACES has an accuracy of only 80 percent – possibly too low for official, state-coordinated deployments.
February 6, 2018 – by Alex Perala