Eurostar has begun trialing a face-based customer processing solution developed in partnership with iProov, paving the way of expedited screening for travelers using the high-speed rail line.
It’s a prominent deployment of biometric traveler screening technology, given Eurostar’s high-profile rail service linking the United Kingdom and France. Eurostar and iProov first announced their collaboration back in the late spring of 2020, explaining at the time that their aim was to let Eurostar passengers verify their identities through a mobile device, and in turn to enable them to board trains at the St. Pancras railway station without the need to visit a ticket booth or to undergo a standard border check.
iProov’s solution revolves around facial recognition technology, which is used to match an end user’s selfie photo to uploaded images of their official identity documents. It’s an approach to remote identity verification that has enjoyed booming popularity in recent years, especially in the financial services sector; for its part, iProov earlier announced that it saw a 15-fold increase in its number of end users in the first half of this year.
The solution’s trial at St. Pancras station will see select participants enroll remotely before arriving, and then proceeding through a dedicated SmartCheck lane to validate their electronic ticket, and then UK Exit Check for biometric authentication by border authorities – none of which will require travelers to hand over physical documentation. In a statement announcing the trial, the companies explained that it “involves a limited number of invited passengers and is focused on the check-in and exit control processes operated by Eurostar at St Pancras Station and not the UK or Schengen Entry controls.”
In addition to iProov and Eurostar, the project also involved the participation of WorldReach Software, which is now part of Entrust, and the United Kingdom Department of Transportation, via a “First of a Kind” competition run by its Innovate UK fund.
“Our investment into the First of a Kind competition, supporting ingenious inventions on our rail network, is driving real-world innovations as we build the railway of tomorrow,” explained Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “The brand new contactless travel technology from iProov and Eurostar is a window into the future of border control, of smoother, more seamless and convenient journeys.”
Face-based passenger processing has been proliferating across a number of airports in recent years; now, the Eurostar trial adds to a growing number of deployments of this technology at other kinds of travel checkpoints, signaling that it could eventually become the dominant approach to traveler processing across air, land, rail, and sea ports.
December 6, 2021 – by Alex Perala