Facial recognition technology to go live at KLIA soon

A passenger uses the facial recognition scanners at KLIA now on a pilot run on Malaysia Airlines’ daily flight to Tokyo and Osaka.

SEPANG: It will take less time to board a flight at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) once the single token facial recognition system is rolled out by the middle of the year.

After their biometrics are captured and verified during check-in, passengers are given a single verification token that will take them through all the airport’s touchpoints, such as baggage drop, security check and boarding, without having to present their passports or boarding passes.

They only need to scan their faces at the facial recognition scanners at these touchpoints to verify their identity, thus reducing queues.

A pilot run on two Malaysia Airlines flights which travel daily to Tokyo and Osaka started on Jan 29 and is expected to last for three months.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) information technology general manager Lee Yiang Ming said it takes about two seconds to get past each touchpoint – as opposed to the traditional 30 seconds to one minute.

“It depends on the airlines and how comfortable they are with it,” Lee told FMT.

“Let’s say MH (Malaysian Airlines) says ‘We are comfortable with it and we want to implement it on all our international flights’, we will be ready for it.”

A single token will take one through all the airport’s touchpoints, such as baggage drop, security check and boarding, without having to present your passport or boarding pass.

The system is part of MAHB’s Airports 4.0 initiative that aims to transform KLIA into a smart airport through the use of big data analytics (BDA).

In August last year, former MAHB group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said the company expected to invest RM100 million in new technologies over the next three years – one of them being the single token facial recognition system.

Apart from enabling a faster and smoother journey with the digitalisation of all travel-related information, the system reduces the risk of fraudulent identity use by passengers, hence increasing safety and security.

To allay concerns about data safety, the data collected throughout the process will only be saved on the airport’s servers until the flight departs.

However, like other new technology such as self check-in kiosks, Lee expects the single token facial recognition system to fully catch on only after two or three years.

About 120 airlines operate in KLIA, and Lee said foreign carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have already shown interest in joining.

“I’m hoping we will have a good problem once we go live; all the airlines want to join, but I don’t have enough equipment,” he said.