In a world in which people are increasingly willing to trade privacy for convenience, facial recognition seems to be a new frontier. And the foremost pioneers on that frontier now appear to be the folks at Dubai International Airport.
Airport officials plan to install a virtual tunnel-shaped aquarium equipped with 80 supposedly invisible cameras that will identify passengers as they walk through, in lieu of customs agents looking from your passport to your face and back. The first aquarium will be up and running by the end of next summer, according to The National. Emirates customers will be the first to experience the tunnel, but the airport plans to install more until 2020.
Facial recognition is popping up at more and more airports as a way to streamline the process of identifying passengers ahead of boarding, and it has its conveniences. You don’t have to remember your passport or driver’s license or other forms of ID, and the lines will theoretically move more quickly because people don’t have to stop and wait for an official to check those IDs.
Dubai’s aquariums seem to be taking the relaxation idea to a level no one else has thought of, but the aquariums serve a purpose other than to calm passengers as they head to their planes.
“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,” Obaid Al Hameeri, the deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs, told The National.
The National reports that travelers will be able to register their faces at kiosks, and those scans will presumably be matched up with what the aquarium-tunnel cameras pick up as you pass through.
If the cameras determine you are who you say you are, you’ll get a green light at the end of the aquari-tunnel. If not, you’ll get a red light, and an official will likely conduct extra screening of some kind.
It’s not clear what Dubai airport officials will do with these face scans after they have them. Do they keep them on file, assuming you’ll return? Do they share this information with government officials in the United Arab Emirates? How about with officials in other countries?
And face scans are just part one of a two-part plan. Soon, these aquariums may also have cameras that scan your irises. Just remember that when you’re looking at all the pretty fish.