New Security Duo on Guard

AOptix’s InSight iris recognition system has recently been introduced at Gatwick’s South Terminal. (All images – AOptix)

Following Gatwick’s introduction of the InSight iris recognition system, its manufacturer AOptix has unveiled a joint face and iris recognition system. Tom Allett reports.

AOptix’s InSight iris recognition system has recently been introduced at Gatwick’s South Terminal. (All images – AOptix)

The challenge of providing failsafe airline passenger identity checks in a fast and user-friendly manner has taxed some of the finest minds in the aviation and security industries for at least ten years.
Since the 9/11 attacks in the United States air travel security checks have steadily become more onerous and intrusive and the passenger screening checkpoints would be better named as ‘chokepoints’ during the peak periods at some airports.
Stringent security checks are obviously vital to our safety, but there is no doubt that they remain unpopular with all who endure them.
However, one part of the identification process, that driven by the use of biometric information – the science of using a person’s unique physiological characteristics to prove their identity – seems to have met with widespread acceptance from everyone involved.
The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) June 2011 announcement on its view of how the future of passenger screening will look envisages that intelligence-driven risk-based measures will lead to travellers being split into three separate channels – ‘Known Traveller’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Enhanced Security’ – a move away from today’s ‘one size fits all’ security system.
The IATA foresees that integrating more passenger information into the checkpoint is a vital part of streamlining the whole security process and that it will enable the airports’ security teams to concentrate their efforts on those passengers who are deemed to be a potentially higher risk that the ‘known traveller’.  Former IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani, who stepped down earlier this year, described IATA’s vision as a move away from a system that “looks for bad objects to one that can find bad people.”
This is where biometrics can make a significant difference.  The industry’s decision to use either iris, fingerprint or facial recognition biometric technologies to establish ‘know travellers’ identities was made several years ago.  Since that time, much work has taken place to enhance the passenger identification processes using all of these human features, but many within the industry and security services have the opinion that iris and facial recognition technologies provide a more failsafe method of determining the identity of a previously registered traveller at the security gate, or checking their identity against a boarding pass later in the procedure.
A fast and accurate iris and face match completed at a comfortable distance from the camera for the passenger is the cornerstone of AOptix’s new InSight Duo. At check-in the passenger is asked to look at the pole-mounted camera which takes the scan.

In October, after a successful trial period, the UK’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, introduced an automated iris-to-boarding pass recognition system that is the first of its kind in Europe.  Developed by AOptix Technologies Inc, the InSight VM iris recognition solution has been installed into 34 automated e-Gates inside the airport’s South Terminal.
With the goal of improving the overall airport experience for travellers, the InSight VM is integrated into Gatwick’s Flow Track system, developed by Human Recognitions Solutions (HRS).  Flow Track automates the movement of passengers through security/border checkpoints by assigning a passenger’s biometric information to a form of identification, such as a boarding pass as part of Gatwick’s automated security process or a passport.  The airport’s confidence about its ability to enhance its departing passenger flows is high.
Some previous iris recognition products have required the passenger to be very close, sometimes almost touching the camera that scans their eye, but the depth and width of the ‘capture field’ of the InSight system’s camera is very wide and the method is non-intrusive.
Designed for easy use and high throughput, the system is intended to create secure, customer-friendly passage into the international departure lounge area where passengers can shop, dine and relax while waiting to board their flights.  The passenger simply steps forward and places his or her boarding pass on the gate’s reader and looks towards the camera at the top right of the gateway, where there is a large ‘Look Here’ notice.  According to the manufacturer, tests show that in 99.6% of cases when the passenger is within approximately 7ft (2.2m) of the camera, the camera/software combination will photograph, and match the identity of the iris against that attributed to the boarding pass holder in two to three seconds, though the processing speed depends on the size of the database it is scanning for a match.  For example, a system scanning a nation’s border control database would take longer to find a match than one simply scanning a frequent flyer’s list.  The system works regardless of whether the passenger is say, exceptionally tall or perhaps sitting in a wheelchair.  Passengers wearing contact senses can also be identified by the InSight system and glasses aren’t necessarily a problem, although it is possible for the frames to interfere with the scan so it is best that they are removed.  The process of scanning the passenger’s eyes and matching them to their boarding pass takes just a few seconds.
At the boarding gate the passenger puts their boarding pass onto the reader before looking up at the camera. This enables the system to confirm that the person about to board the aircraft is the same one to whom the boarding pass was issued.

Questions have been asked about theoretical weaknesses; for example, can such a system successfully detect and therefore prevent someone attempting to ‘piggyback’ through the security portal by passing through it at the same time as someone holding a legitimate boarding card?  Is there an opportunity for a potential terrorist to pass through the gate at the same moment as a ‘partner in crime’.  Perhaps even a genuine passenger might believe that the person who just squeezed through the security gate with them was merely queue jumping.  Obviously, anyone seeking to leave the country undetected could plot to beat such a system, whether it be any type of criminal seeking to evade justice, or maybe even an estranged parent seeking to smuggle their infant child through the gate by carrying them in their arms while travelling with their own legitimate documentation.  While such occurrences are extremely rare and, hopefully, prevented from succeeding by the several layers of security checks throughout the departure process, even the remotest of potential scenarios have to be taken into consideration during the development stage – and AOptix say they have.
When asked about ‘piggybacking’, AOptix’s Director of Corporate Communications, Brian Rhea, told Airports International: “There have been some interesting challenges in developing our systems, but we have been working with the industry’s top security experts right from the start so we think that we have every angle covered in terms of preventing any attempts to beat the system.”
The latest addition to the company’s product development is the InSight Duo, which offers simultaneous iris and face recognition checks.
Unless there is some kind of similar secret military application in use somewhere, the InSight Duo appears to be a world-first.
After a few seconds, when the boarding pass and passenger’s biometric scans are matched, the system issues a ‘clear’ instruction.

AOptix says that this latest addition to its product range captures both iris and face data information with same level of accuracy and speed as its iris-only predecessor.  .  The dual iris / facial identity check is completed within the same distance range as the iris only version in “about six or seven seconds” assuming that we are talking about a frequent flyer database.
Mr Rhea said that by adding a face recognition quality image capture to the InSight iris recognition system, the Duo offers: “dramatic performance and versatility in a single, integrated unit.  [The] Rapid collection of a dual modality record enables flexible usage of either biometric, allowing for seamless migration from legacy face recognition systems or utilisation of both biometrics for standards compliance, outlier handling, or even biometric fusion.”
He added that the InSight Duo is “particularly well suited to enrolment and authentication applications including registered or trusted traveller programmes and expedited processing at immigration or airport security checkpoints, where speed and accuracy are critical.
“Because the InSight Duo is fully automated, it is simple and intuitive even for non-technical or first-time users, and can help streamline otherwise complicated processing.”
Joseph Pritikin, the company’s Director of Product Marketing for AOptix added: “We’re seeing a great deal of interest in iris recognition as the biometric of the future, and a steady reliance on face recognition due to the pervasiveness of the technology.
“With the InSight Duo, there are no compromises.  It combines the unparalleled uniqueness of iris with the ubiquity of face.”
AOptix first displayed its InSight Duo system at the Biometrics Consortium Conference in Tampa, Florida, in September.  This was followed by inter airport Europe in Munich in October, where the system was on display inside an access gate by Germany’s KABA company.
Dubai International Airport looks set to be the first to trial the new Duo product next year.

IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future: How does it work?
THE CHECKPOINT of the Future ends the one-size-fits-all concept for security.  Passengers approaching the checkpoint will be directed to one of three lanes: ‘Known Traveller’, ‘Normal’ or ‘Enhanced Security’.  The determination will be based on a biometric identifier in the passport or other travel document that triggers the results of a risk assessment conducted at government level before the passenger arrives at the airport.
‘Known travellers’ who have registered and completed background checks with government authorities will have expedited access.  ‘Normal screening’ would be for the majority of travellers, while those passengers for whom less information is available, who are randomly selected, or who are deemed to be an elevated risk, would have an additional level of screening.
Screening technology is being developed that will allow passengers to walk through the checkpoint without having to remove any clothes or unpack their belongings.  Moreover, it is envisioned that the security process could be combined with outbound customs and immigration procedures, further streamlining the passenger experience.