U.K. to test facial biometrics at airports

The British government will begin testing facial-recognition technology at airports in the United Kingdom this summer, officials announced.

Individuals who hold new passports issued by the United Kingdom or European Union will be eligible to participate in the trial.

Participants will pass through unmanned gates, where their faces will be scanned electronically, and those facial images will be matched with the digitized photos on record. If the image is verified, the passenger will be allowed to proceed through the gate.

The locations of the tests have not been announced. If tests are successful, officials have said the technology will be expanded to all U.K. airports.

The test is one of the first conducted globally to demonstrate the ability of facial-recognition technology to verify the identities of travelers at airports.

Facial-recognition technology is used in about 20 state motor vehicle departments in the United States to verify that the photo on a driver's license matches facial images of that driver on file and confirm that the applicant does not hold another license from the state.

Facial-recognition technology includes cameras, scanners, readers, computer networks and data storage systems and is a popular area for government contractors. In the United States, motor vehicle departments are the primary customers.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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