Dubai airport’s new virtual aquarium tunnel scans your face as you walk through it

Passengers will no longer have to wait in line at security counters or pass through e-gates, instead walking through a tunnel that scans people’s faces.

Dubai airport security tunnel. Satish Kumar for The NationalDubai airport security tunnel.


Travellers departing from Dubai will no longer need to pass through any sort of security clearance counter or e-gate, they will simply walk through a virtual aquarium tunnel that will scan their face or iris using hidden cameras while they’re in motion.

The tunnel, which will display high-quality images of an aquarium, will be equipped with about 80 cameras set up in every corner and the idea came about after 18 months of brainstorming.

The move is one of several new security measures taken by Dubai aviation officials, such as replacing the explosive detection scanners with new, Chinese-made ones that can detect a wider range of explosive materials.

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

“The virtual images are of very high quality and gives a simulation of a real-life aquarium.”

The tunnel display can also be altered to offer other natural settings, such as the desert, or even to display adverts.

At the end of the tunnel, if the traveller is already registered, they will either receive a green message that says “have a nice trip” or, if the person is wanted for some reason, a red sign will alert the operations room to interfere.




Your smartphone is now your passport at Dubai airport

Emiratis, GCC citizens and the UAE residents who use the smart gates will no longer have to queue at the boarding gates.

If you’re travelling first class or business, a soon-to-be-implemented project will allow you to go straight to boarding gate without undergoing immigration check at Dubai airports.

The ongoing Gitex Technology Week revealed that two future projects and one currently being implemented will make travelling smooth and smart at Dubai airports.

There is another future project that will allow passengers to finish immigration check under 15 seconds by walking through a ‘smart tunnel’ without the need of presenting their passport.

And a system currently implemented on a limited basis allows travellers to fly even without their passports or boarding pass as long as they have their smartphone.

Speaking to Khaleej Times at the Gitex Technology Week in Dubai on Monday, Capt Amer Rashed Almheiri, general directorate of residency and foreign affairs (GDRFA) director of smart application department, said as part of the Dubai 10X Initiative, a futuristic project will allow a traveller to ride an e-car, equipped with immigration checks.

“There is a camera inside the car that uses facial recognition, which is connected to smart immigration gates at the check-in areas.

“All information are captured, including passport details and the boarding pass will be sent to the counter. The traveller will not have to go through the immigration and can go straight to the lounge and the boarding gate,” he said.

“What is more amazing is that there is a weighing scale and scanner at the boot of the car so the baggage will be weighed, scanned for any prohibited materials and after passing the scanning will go straight to the cargo area of the plane,” Almheiri added.

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Unmanned flying taxis, cargo airplanes to hit the stratosphere soon [Hi-Tech]

The United Arab Emirates wants to run the world’s first drone taxi service

to lead the Arab world in innovation. The first drone taxi service showcased last week in Dubai. The flying taxi was developed by German drone firm Volocopter. It is made up of a two-seater helicopter cabin and a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers on the top. The maiden test run was performed in a ceremony for the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.




SITA to Bring Biometric Passenger Identification Solutions to Qatar Airport

SITA will soon bring its biometric passenger processing technology to the Hamad International Airport,

in Qatar, with the parties having just signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on advanced passenger processing solutions. The agreement will see SITA implement 62 of its biometric check-in kiosks at the airport, as well as the deployment of biometric e-gates.

The organizations will also trial the use of robots for passenger assistance, blockchain technology, and virtual and augmented reality technologies; but a statement announcing the MoU emphasized the importance of biometrics to HIA’s overall strategy, with HIA COO Badr Mohammed Al Meer explaining, “The use of biometrics as the only verification required at each passenger touch point along the airport journey will go a long way in improving the flow of passengers, providing a better travel experience as well as greater operational visibility for the stakeholders.”

The MoU comes after SITA and HIA trialled biometric exit screening last year, and soon after HIA worked with Iris ID to implement biometric passenger screening based on iris recognition earlier this year, further underling the airport’s commitment to the implementation of biometric technologies. For its part, SITA has just proclaimed the success of a biometric passenger identification program conducted in collaboration with JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection agency at Boston Logan International Airport. That program sought to replace passengers’ travel documents with facial recognition, suggesting that this modality will play a central role in SITA’s work with Hamad International Airport.

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Hamad International Airport reveals biometrics, robotics, blockchain, AR and VR technology plans

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa, and Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer, Hamad International Airport at the MoU signing.

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has revealed its plans to tap into a variety of new and emerging technologies as part of its “Smart Airport” vision.

HIA and SITA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which provides the framework for the two organisations to implement or trial biometrics, robots, blockchain, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology solutions at the Doha hub airport.

The main focus of the MoU is to advance HIA’s plans to implement seamless identity management across all key passenger touch-points using biometrics. The formalisation of the partnership follows last year’s pilot of biometric exit checks.

‘Your face becomes your passport’

According to Suhail Kadri, Vice President Information Technology, Hamad International Airport, the implementation of biometric technology will help to “enable us to become a fully digital airport”.

Today, passengers departing from HIA have to show their boarding pass and/or passport at multiple touch-points but the use of facial recognition technology will remove the need to present physical documents.

Kadri explained: “Once you’ve registered the first contact at the airport, from then onwards all you need to do is show your face at check-in, self-bag drop, pre-border control, immigration and ultimately at the boarding gate.

“This, if you imagine, will completely transform how you experience the airport today,” he added. “Your face becomes your passport.”

Common-use kiosks and self-tagging

It has also been revealed that SITA will be supplying and commissioning 62 of its latest-generation common-use check-in kiosks with self-tagging capabilities, as well as e-gates prior to border control in departures. Initially, three kiosks and e-gates will be able to use biometric technology to identify passengers, while biometric sensors and readers can be added to the others at a later date.

Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer, Hamad International Airport, explained that biometric-based passenger processing will also deliver benefits to the airport and its partners. “The use of biometrics as the only verification required at each passenger touch-point along the airport journey will go a long way in improving the flow of passengers, providing a better travel experience as well as greater operational visibility for the stakeholders.”

The MoU also lays the foundations for future trials to evaluate the effectiveness of robots for passenger facilitation, blockchain technology for rapid and secure sharing of data across stakeholders, and the potential use of augmented and virtual reality for operational concepts.

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Megahubs International Index 2017 The world’s most internationally connected airports

See 2017’s edition of the Megahubs Index

Which airports are the most internationally connected in the world? Find out in 2017’s OAG Megahubs International Index as we rank the leading airports in the world in terms of connectivity and present them as a series of tables based on regional location and airline type.

And new this year, we are revealing the Megahubs US Index, focusing on the most connected airports in the United States.


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The top 10 ways the Internet of Things will shape the way we travel

Have you ever noticed how many breadcrumbs you drop when you are eating a sandwich? And have you ever considered the variety of information that your trail of breadcrumbs leaves? For starters, it reveals the place where you’ve been. Perhaps it’s your favorite seat in the lunchroom, or the fact that you always eat at your desk. It also shows the kind of ingredients you prefer, like whole wheat over white, mustard with no mayo, or how messy or tidy you are.

When analyzed, the amount of data you provide by eating a simple snack is immense. The trace you leave behind is like a portrait, and it may reveal the best way to engage with you.

Like the breadcrumbs that fall off the sleeves of your shirt, the Internet of Things (IoT) can capture a treasure trove of data. Our travel habits are filled with data points that can be used to improve the travel experience to make it easier, faster and better than ever before.

So how can the Internet of Things shape the way we travel? Here are the top ten use cases Amadeus is looking at today:

  • Fuel Monitoring: The collection of aircraft data, such as weight of the load, weather patterns, trajectory or navigation, can be used to plan and reduce fuel consumption.
  • Passenger verification: Long security lines are the bane of airport managers and travelers alike. What if passports were replaced by a single biometrics scan that could act as a travel ID, or a smart phone app that stores securely encrypted personal data to share with traveler consent? Improved passenger verification could translate to less time boarding and more time spent shopping at the duty free shops.
  • Asset monitoring: Sensors can track and monitor assets like non-motorized ground support vehicles used to load suitcases in the airplane’s hold. Airports like Schiphol, in Amsterdam, are using that data to locate their vehicles and dispatch them in the most efficient way.
  • Predictive maintenance: Airports and airlines can’t afford to let things break down during peak hours. With sensors to monitor engine performance and other key systems, maintenance can be scheduled as soon as something looks off to reduce breakdowns, delays and costs.
  • Connected Vehicles: Ground transport is also a primordial contender for potential development. Analyzing real-time data from millions of connected cars can lead to enhanced safety and decision making – no more running the red light because you didn’t notice it. The use of Internet of Things sensors and connectivity will also improve how they are serviced, maintained and designed.
  • Connected Rooms: Guestroom automation in property management can help deliver better service and save costs. Using Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology, hotels can track items in the room. The chip is read by sensors in the hotel room, and can be used by housekeeping to see if towels need to be replenished or if room-service trays need to be picked up.
  • Hyper-personalization: For hotels hyper-personalization defines a brand new guest experience – customized room settings, automated check-in, etc. Customer preferences can be stored so that favorite shows, preferred newspapers, or other details like extra towels or a yoga mat are already arranged before a guest arrives. Be one step ahead of the game and offer your regular business traveler the Financial Times in advance to foster loyalty.
  • Location-based interactions: They can provide contextual information to the user through location data. A business traveler might only have 20 minutes to eat between meetings. In that case, location data might suggest the best takeout restaurants nearby with the best customer reviews. If they are allergic to gluten, they could receive the nearest gluten-free restaurant recommendations in their neighborhood.
  • Wearables for improved operations: The use of Internet of Things on wearables can simplify operations like credit card payments or ticket access. Wrist bands can be your best ally when visiting a theme park. Disney’s MagicBands collect data from visitors to avoid issuing tickets, personalize the experience by keeping track of their preferences, and enable them to use the bands as an alternative payment method to credit cards.
  • Baggage tracking: Imagine if you could keep track of your bag in real time. Baggage tracking could ensure that lost baggage is a thing of the past.

The applications of the Internet of Things in travel are numerous. These are just a few of the use cases we’re looking at now. Are there others you’ve thought of? Let us know in the comments below.

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