Welcome to the Future: JetBlue to Test Facial Recognition Technology

May 31, 2017

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Beginning in June, JetBlue will become the first US-based airline to test facial-recognition software with travelers in lieu of checking passengers’ boarding pass and identification. The technology will debut at Boston‘s Logan International Airport (BOS) for passengers flying from Boston to Aruba.

Rather than checking in with boarding passes, passengers will have the option to be photographed at the gate. That photograph will then be checked against already-existing passport or visa photos stored on Customs and Border Protection’s database. Passengers whose photos match those in the database will be allowed to board without showing a boarding pass or passport.

While government officials use this technology for increased security (like when police officers photograph arrestees), airports are planning to use the tech to increase ease and reduce stress for travelers.

“The main advantage is customer ease,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s vice president of customer experience, to The Boston Globe. “It’s foreseeable to have a situation in the future where a customer never has to take out a boarding pass.”

Because this is the technology’s first run with actual passengers, travelers will have the option to be photographed or to use their ticket and passport. Passengers who opt into the facial recognition technology will be on a separate line at the gate. The airlines predicts that the system will take only seconds to verify the identity of passengers, making the option an ostensibly faster choice.

The JetBlue technology will be available at Logan starting June 12 — for about two to three months — with the airline looking to test the accuracy and speed of facial recognition, while also studying how willing passengers are to have their photograph taken by airport security.

According to The Boston Globe, other airports plan to test the technology later this year. While the new advances are meant to make passengers more comfortable, some are already worried about the privacy implications of facial recognition technology. Privacy advocates believe that this could lead to increased surveillance capabilities for the government and advocates are calling for “transparency, oversight and accountability” for those using the technology.

Would you try facial recognition technology? Tell us in the comments, below.

H/T: The Boston Globe

Featured image courtesy of JetBlue’s Facebook page.

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