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Dubai Airport to replace security checks with face-scanning fish and a virtual aquarium tunnel

Oct 13, 2017
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Dubai Airport to replace security checks with face-scanning fish and a virtual aquarium tunnel

Dubai International Airport is doing away with security counters next year and introducing virtual fish to verify your identity instead. Yes, you read that right.
Instead of waiting in line for security kiosks or e-gates, passengers will be able to walk through a virtual aquarium tunnel in which 80 in-built cameras will scan their faces. The role of the fish? To capture the passengers’ attention – and thus their biometrics.
Foreign affairs chief Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri told The National: “The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveller but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travellers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print.”
The first “biometric borders” will appear by late 2018 at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3, with other terminals being fitted with them by 2020.
You’ll have to be pre-registered to pass through the tunnel, with 3D face-scanning kiosks set up at locations around the airport to do so.
When passengers reach the end of the tunnel, their biometrics will be matched to their digital profile and they will either receive a green message reading “have a nice trip” or a red alert if a security officer is required to perform further checks.
The screens can be changed from “aquarium mode” to show other themed scenes, or even adverts.
It’s the airport’s latest measure aimed at speeding up the security process to cope with an ever-increasing influx of travellers.
Maj Gen Al Hameeri says that it has already managed to cut down time spent at the security counters to a mere five seconds, but that’s not enough.
Dubai is the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, with more than 80 million travellers passing through it last year. According to the General Civil Aviation, that number is expected to reach 124 million by 2020.
It’s not the only major travel hub to be experimenting with this sort of technology.
Australia also has plans to test a similar “contactless” passport control system that checks arrivals against electronic versions of passports and biometric cues. It would let passengers “literally just walk out like at a domestic airport” and will start working in March 2019, according to reports.

How Dubai International became the world’s busiest airport

  • DXB officially opened in 1960, at the order of then-ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. It consisted of a single mile-long runway crafted from compacted sand


  • By 1965, it had its first asphalt runway and throughout the late 1760s and 1970s, the airport continued to expand in size to cope with more and bigger planes



  • The second runway was installed in 1984, along with several upgrades and extensions to the airport’s terminal. By now, it was a stop-off point for major airlines including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines


  • DXB opened Terminal 2 in 1998, and Terminal 3 (dedicated entirely to Emirates) in 2008 – increasing the airport’s total capacity by 43 million passengers



  • The airport celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 29, 2010 by which point it had seen more than 402 million passengers pass through at a growth rate of 15 per cent a year


  • DXB officially became the world’s busiest airport for international passengers in 2014, with numbers totalling 70.4 million



  • Last year, it saw 86.3 million international passengers pass through. This traffic is projected to reach 89 million in 2017



  • The airport now serves 90 airlines which operate more than 7700 weekly flights to more than 240 destinations across six continents


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