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Passengers travelling from Manchester Airport in the north of England will have their eyes scanned at check-in, and then tracked as they walk around the airport.
While biometrics systems, technologies which use physical traits to identify individuals can be time-consuming to use, the eye-scanning machines being installed at Manchester recognise a person’s iris as they walk around the airport.
This massively speeds up security. There’s no need to stare into a special camera and the machines can be installed in a corridor to scan irises as people pass.
It may be quick and painless, but an unobtrusive biometric system could also be an invisible biometric system. Privacy advocates and others may worry about the risks of a person being identified without knowing it. There’s clearly potential for abuse.
The hardware is being installed as part of an UK government-backed trial. For now the trial is voluntary and will last for two weeks, and won’t replace conventional security checks at this stage.
Passengers agreeing to take part will have their iris scanned when they check-in. The data will be used to identify them as they enter the security search area when it is scanned again.
The system is still in the early stages of development. However the company behind the technology, Human Recognition Systems, says early results have shown it is accurate.
Manchester Airport product director Mike Fazackerley said: “Although it is in its very early stages of development, using this technology for transfer passengers could make Manchester more attractive to airlines as a hub airport in the future.”
Manchester Airport already uses iris recognition technology to manage staff access and a system is in place to identify pre-registered people re-entering the UK on international flights. The UK government says travellers should be able to pass through an iris recognition point within 20 seconds.