The NEC Corporation is officially moving forward with its trial of its new Face Express passenger processing system. The trial kicked off at Narita International Airport on April 13, with service for international travelers flying with All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.
To use the new system, passengers must first check in at a biometric kiosk when they arrive at the airport. That kiosk will register that person’s face, and link that face to their travel information and their travel documents (assuming the face matches the passport). After that, they will no longer need to present those documents as they move through the airport. Instead, cameras installed in auto-bag drop units and at security checkpoints will recognize and verify participating travelers before allowing them to proceed.
The system was designed with an eye toward privacy, so all passenger information collected through the program (including facial images) will be deleted 24 hours after registration. The Narita trial will run alongside a similar trial at Haneda International Airport, which will be offering Face Express service for all airlines operating international flights.
Both airports are hoping that the touchless system will reduce processing times and improve public health outcomes in the wake of COVID-19. In that regard, the system will minimize the amount of physical contact that travelers have with airport staff.
The biometric kiosks and the automated bag drop units were provided by ICM Airport Technics, which is itself a subsidiary of Amadeus. Those kiosks were built to be compatible with the Face Express system, as part of a process that is based on the IATA One ID standard.
The new trial builds on NEC’s existing relationship with Narita, which dates back to 2019 when the company installed facial recognition tech in anticipation of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Those games were ultimately postponed until 2021.
April 15, 2021 – by Eric Weiss