Dubai Airport to Replace Security Checks With Face-Scanning Tunnels

The Dubai International Airport has developed a new virtual aquarium tunnel to make the security check process far more appealing. According to The National, a local news outlet, Dubai Airport visitors will walk through the tunnel and see fish swimming around. Meanwhile, 80 cameras built into the tunnel will snap photos of them and scan their faces. At the end of the tunnel, visitors will either be allowed to move on or asked to stop for further screening, the report said.

While placing visitors in an aquarium with fish swimming around is part aesthetic, it’s also functional.

“The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveler but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travelers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print,” Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs, told The National.

The tunnel display can also be altered to offer other natural settings, such as the desert, or even to display adverts. At the end of the tunnel, if the traveller is already registered, they will either receive a green message that says “have a nice trip” or, if the person is wanted for some reason, a red sign will alert the operations room to interfere.

“And throughout the tunnel, the passenger does not feel anything, they pass through normally,” Maj Gen Al Hameeri said. The first of these “virtual borders” will be installed by the end of the summer of 2018 at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, the home of Emirates. In phases up until 2020, the tunnels will be rolled out at other Dubai terminals.

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Facial recognition is increasingly used at airports for security and processing purposes. Delta Air Lines uses the technology to speed up bag drops, while a new biometric exit system is coming to US airports, designed to track visa holders’ faces as they leave the country. But there are also privacy concerns over the technology’s spread.