How many times have you misplaced your passport on the way to the airport? You check your pockets, your suitcase, and your partner’s bags, only to find it in the first place you looked, your pocket. How’d it get there? Well, this stress might soon be a thing of the past.
Phil Douglas, director general of the UK’s Border Force, hopes to replace the easily misplaced document with facial recognition. Speaking with The Times, he’s been impressed by the technological advancements in Australia and Dubai – the latter currently allows facial recognition for 50 nationalities.
“I had to apply for an electronic travel authorisation in advance and used my smartphone to read the chip in my passport. That sent the image of me in the chip to the Australian authorities. When I arrived in Australia, I didn’t even have to get my passport out of my bag. It is a really interesting concept,” he told the Times.
He wants to replicate their e-gate schemes here in the UK and will trial ‘more frictionless facial recognition’ in 2024. Which, if goes well, will see over 270 e-gates across the country replaced. We’ll see how willing people are to get rid of their blue passports when that time comes…
How will facial recognition at UK airports work?
People will need to be registered on a database before they can simply walk in and out of an airport. But before you say that sounds invasive, many biometric details of British and Irish travellers are already held after the passport application process. Machines will scan travellers’ faces and use facial recognition to access this information before letting them through.
What are the benefits?
Apart from the fact that you’ll never need a passport again. Or that it should create a more frictionless and stress-free visit to the airport. Douglas also claims it will increase security, with a lot more upfront information instantly available. “We’ll know if there’s any records of them on our security systems.”
And the downsides?
Beyond the Black Mirror/The Matrix/Terminator comparisons, there’s the fact that technology can sometimes be, well, a bit ****. Only in May 2023 did the UK experience absolute chaos after e-gates crashed across the country. So we look forward to that in the future!