Aurora develops new purpose for its facial biometrics technology

03 July 2017
Aurora facial biometric technology is already in use at Heathrow (T5 pictured), but the company has just launched a new version enabling anonymised behavioural tracking. Source: PA

UK-based Aurora presented a longer-range version of its infrared facial recognition technology for the first time at the IFSEC exhibition in London on 20-22 June 2017.

Gary James, Aurora head of sales and marketing, explained to Jane's that compared with its existing sensors (in place at Heathrow Terminal 5 for about five years), the longer-range version is being used for more surveillance-based tasks.

With the new system, a passenger enrols at a distance of up to 6 m. This is done anonymously - validating passenger identity is not required, because the aim at Heathrow is to be able to track an individual at specific bottlenecks in the terminal, in order to see how long it takes to negotiate them. Once the passenger leaves the airport, this behavioural data is destroyed.

"There is a clear return on investment in this type of deployment, because it helps airports meet KPIs [key performance indicators], since failure to do so often results in fines," noted James.

The deployment of the longer-range Aurora sensors is a natural development of Aurora's experience at Heathrow (T2 and T5) and Manchester airports in the United Kingdom. T5, for example, mixes domestic and international travellers, leading to a potential security risk (swapping boarding passes). To prevent this, at security, boarding passes are scanned and passengers asked to stand in front of a camera, to allow a facial biometric to be linked to a specific boarding pass. At the gate, passengers are required to again present boarding passes and have their faces validated by a further camera, prior to boarding taking place. Gates for the majority of domestic depatures are now almost entirely automated.

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