Consumer Authentication Gets Fishy In Dubai International Airport


Dubai International Airport has come up with a unique way to check passenger IDs: A virtual tunnel-shaped aquarium equipped with 80 invisible cameras that will identify passengers as they walk through.

Mashable reported that the aquarium, which is scheduled to be running by the end of next summer, will work in lieu of customs agents who manually check your passport and compare the photo to your face. Emirates customers will be the first to experience the tunnel, but the airport plans to install additional aquariums until 2020.

Travelers will be able to register their faces at kiosks, and those scans will then be matched up with what the aquarium-tunnel cameras pick up as you pass through. If the cameras are able to verify your identity through facial recognition, you’ll get a green light at the end of the tunnel. If not, you’ll get a red light, and an official is then expected to conduct extra security screening.

There are also reports that in the future, the aquarium camera will be able to scan passengers’ irises. There is no word on whether the scans will be kept on file, shared with government officials in the United Arab Emirates or even with officials in other countries.

In addition to offering face recognition services, the aquarium also serves as a way to calm passengers as they head to their flights.

“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,” said Obaid Al Hameeri, the deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs.

The ease of facial recognition has made it a popular security and payments feature. Apple is offering it with their new iPhone 8 and iPhone X smartphones, while ATMs using the technology will be popping up in Macau. And a KFC in China will allow customers to pay for their meals with “Smile to Pay” biometric facial recognition technology.