Etihad to Trial AI-based Check-in Services

Uses Ground-Breaking Technology to Revolutionise the Travel Experience  

Etihad Airways and Elenium, a leading provider of automation technology solutions, will together demonstrate how a newly developed voice activated self-service kiosk, bag drop and boarding gate facility will revolutionise the travel experience by taking facial recognition technology to new heights.

The demonstration will take place at Passenger Terminal EXPO (PTE) in London between 26 – 28 March.

Using cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision and natural human interfacing, Etihad Airways and Elenium will demonstrate how they will change the way consumers travel by showcasing the airport experience of the future.

Jorg Oppermann, VP HUB and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways said: “With biometric installations increasing across airports globally, Etihad is recognising the growing demand to streamline not just the passenger verification process but to also decrease passenger queues and to increase operational efficiency.

“As a leading global airline, Etihad’s unique collaboration with Elenium will allow us to use their advanced technologies and expertise to cultivate new ideas for the aviation industry and foster the vision of future travel.”

A key area of cooperation involves the use of technologies from Elenium, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing subsidiary of Amazon Inc, and Etihad Airways. Together at PTE, the three entities will demonstrate a test concept for a seamless travel experience across the entire customer journey from booking to arrival at the final destination.

Etihad Airways, Gulf Air Sign Codeshare Agreement

Passengers check-in to their flight and register their biometric data on their mobile device before arriving at the airport, reducing queues at the airport.

Using AI, new baggage-drop terminals scan and memorise each suitcase placed on the belt and assign it to the guest reservation, removing the need for tagged luggage.

Using biometrics, passengers are identified and offered a personalised duty-free shopping experience through a voice interactive display, catered to the individual’s interests and needs, and also utilising floor space efficiently.

Passengers will board their flight by walking through boarding channels which will automatically validate them without the need for a printed boarding pass – a faster, safer system.

Watch: Etihad Delivers Flame of Hope for Special Olympics

Mike Papamichael, VP Technology and Innovation, Etihad Airways said: “The technological vision and strategy is to make the guest journey a frictionless and digitally enabled experience across all channels and touch points at the airport.

“Etihad’s relationship with Elenium builds on this vision and along with our micro services strategy, allows us to co-create and develop innovative self-service and biometric solutions for greater flexibility and a seamless guest experience.”

Etihad Airways will also white label the Elenium Voyager App which features booking management, passenger check-in, passport validation, timatic auto check, facial biometric enrolment, payment wallet, itinerary management (hotel, transfer, car etc.) and companion functions.

Aaron Hornlimann, Elenium Automation’s Chief Executive Officer said: “Together with Etihad, we have imagined how artificial intelligence and cloud computing can be used to reinvent the passenger experience by using voice recognition and biometrics.

“Our vision is for passengers to simply walk through the airport unencumbered by the legacy of kiosk touch screens and the need to scan a boarding pass.”

The Manchester City Football Club Premier League Trophy will also be on display at the Etihad and Elenium stand on the first day of the Passenger Terminal Expo.

Etihad Airways will install the new self-service transfer kiosks in phases at the new Midfield Terminal in Abu Dhabi.

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Innovation: The Driving Force of Food Retail in India

Here’s how food retail has reached a definition beyond just the service and the food

Innovation: The Driving Force of Food Retail in India
Gaurav Dewan

Gaurav Dewan Contributor COO and Business Head, Travel Food Services

The word innovation, by definition, refers to a new idea or imagination in the form of a method or device. It is also often thought of as the application of feasible solutions for newer requirements or existing market needs. This is, however, not merely limited to products, and can be applied in the case of food retail, in areas of quality control, technology, consistency, efficiency, people, and even institutional changes.

The DataPUBLICITÉinRead invented by Teads

According to industry reports, food processing is one of the biggest sectors in India, in terms of production, consumption, export, and GDP growth. In fact, India has even overtaken China to become the most favourable market for retail expansion. Owing to a change in the consumer’s lifestyle and consumption patterns, the future of the F&B sector is definitely looking bright. And with support from the Government, food processing is expected to be a key factor in bridging the gap between demand and supply. However, the true test of the industry’s growth will solely depend on its ability to invest, organize and innovate, in order to deliver high-value products to customers.

And in the case of the food retail industry, innovation is now about designing an experience that’s remarkable and creates value to keep the discerning customer of today engaged. As a result of the insane growth of social media, and e-commerce, today’s shopper is much more critical and has very high expectations. As players in the food retail industry need to understand the role the buyer plays in our strategies for innovation. Great customer service, impressively quick responses, ease and flexibility, nifty tools, and a plethora of choices have contributed to the growth of the sector.  It would be safe to say then, that the increased use of technology and digital mediums has been a driving force behind innovation in the food retail sector. Many Indian players are making optimum use of new technologies to increase production, meet quality standards and increase profitability. And in return, the market has provided us with a lot of opportunities in recent times to facilitate the adoption of such technologies. Be it food exploration, reservations, discovery, delivery, and feedback, technology has infiltrated the sector like never before.

As a result, online food and grocery portals have gained popularity across the country, especially in metros, with Mumbai topping the charts, followed closely by Delhi and Kolkata.  And this has only brought about increased competition among companies and encouraged brick and mortar restaurants to go online and follow and omnichannel model of business. This omnichannel strategy focuses more than mere selling of products and services and engages the end buyer to empower them and create an unforgettable experience.

Food retail has reached a definition beyond just the service and the food. With more and more outlets opening to offer not just local cuisine but also the culture and vibrancy of the place, a 360-degree experience has become essential in the industry. Innovative ways to provide such experiences have been noticed in multiple outlets across airports. What they offer is a way to experience the city in a small pocket of the airport itself. This comes as a boon for travellers who use connected flights for their trips. Without having to step out of the convenience of airports, they are able to experience local culture and cuisine.

A big part of this experience is also the changing dining habits of consumers. The expectation of quick service has become a driving factor behind innovation in the food retail industry in India. To meet this demand, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) has been set up at locations with high footfalls such as railway stations, airports and even national highways. This travel retail segment as it is known as has evolved from a cottage industry of sorts to a multi-billion dollar market, which is growing at unprecedented levels.

The New Concept

Another important innovation that has now made its way into the India Food Retail sector is the concept of lounges at prominent transport hubs. These lounges have a three-pronged benefit to the industry and its stakeholders. To consumers, the lounges offer a superior user experience and a feeling of being part of something special and unique. To the airports, the establishment of premium lounges such as the ones in Mumbai airport has led to a boost in their reputation and significant upside in their business. Lastly, to the airlines, what lounges offer is a way to create a sense of customer loyalty with their passengers and an opportunity to outsource such secondary parts of the business to specialists.

The organized food retail market has come a long way in India, be it with innovations in technology, newer business models or the demand for gourmet and organic products. And as we move forward, it is clear then that innovation will definitely be at the center of the growth of food retail in India.

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Biometric solutions for complete passenger experience to feature at Passenger Terminal EXPO

Several airport technology providers exhibiting at Passenger Terminal EXPO 2019 have made announcements in the lead-up to next week’s show in London.

Elenium and Eithad to showcase

Automation technology provider Elenium and UAE national airline Etihad Airways will demonstrate a newly developed voice-activated self-service kiosks, bag drop, and boarding gate facility powered by facial recognition at Passenger Terminal EXPO 2019.

The companies say their demonstration with AWS will show how cloud technology, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural human interfacing can change the way consumers travel. Their combined concept consists of a passenger check-in and biometric registration prior to arrival at the airport on the passenger’s mobile device, followed by AI baggage-drop terminals that remove the need for baggage tags, duty-free shopping experiences personalized with biometrics, customer service kiosks, and paperless flight boarding.

Etihad Airways is also white-labelling the Elenium Voyager App, which includes the facial biometric enrollment feature.

“Together with Etihad, we have imagined how artificial intelligence and cloud computing can be used to reinvent the passenger experience by using voice recognition and biometrics,” comments Elenium Automation CEO Aaron Hornlimann. “Our vision is for passengers to simply walk through the airport unencumbered by the legacy of kiosk touch screens and the need to scan a boarding pass.”

Amadeus acquires ICM

Travel technology company Amadeus has acquired ICM Airport Technics, which provides automation and self-service bag drop solutions and has been an early pioneer in using biometrics for baggage processing, to position itself for future growth. The deal allows it to offer a complete end-to-end solution so that airport customers do not have to coordinate several different technology suppliers.

ICM serves about 25 airports, according to the announcement, and provides either replacement or retrofitted auto bag drop units.

“Often the passenger experience in airports is not a good one: long queues to check bags in and disparate services and technologies that do not always speak to each other,” says Amadeus Head of Airport IT Bruno Spada. “In essence, airports are crying out for open self-service solutions to help take the friction and hassle out of the airport experience for passengers. By combining Amadeus’ and ICM’s software and hardware capabilities, by accelerating and introducing more self-service options, and by using the power of biometrics, this deal announced today will ensure that together we can deliver better journeys for passengers in the future.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Amadeus was identified as a key player in the smart airport space in a report from Market Research Engine last year and will be exhibiting at PTE 2019.

Collins to trial multi-country biometric system

Collins Aerospace plans to launch a trial with biometric point solutions in two different countries later this year, Passenger Terminal Today reports.

In a Q+A, the company’s Vice President of Airport Systems Chris Forrest also said Collins will soon begin a trial of a self-service baggage drop system with facial biometrics, and a trial for an end-to-end system including all main touchpoints in an outbound journey. Collins is currently participating in the biometric trial with JetBlue Airways at JFK in New York with CBP.

Collins’ ARINC Selfpass uses facial recognition for a single-token system spanning airport processes for a seamless passenger experience, Forrest says, and is designed to support CBP’s Biometric Entry/Exit mandate. The company is also planning trials for faster and simpler baggage processing, faster security checks, and paperless airline lounge access. Learn more at the company’s PTE 2019 booth.

Forrest says that a governing body needs to make recommendations and set standards for privacy, different biometric modalities, and identity documents to support the full-scale production roll-outs he sees happening in the relatively near future.

Panasonic is also demonstrating its One ID solution for fully automated curb-to-gate airport services powered by facial biometrics, which include check-in and immigration screening, robot assistants to provide directions to boarding gates, digital signage providing personalized flight information, and self-boarding gates.

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Global Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market 2019

Global Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market 2019: Growth Opportunities, Market Status grow at CAGR of 9.97% in 2019-2023

The global Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market report examines world’s main region market conditions, including the product price, capacity, profit, production, supply, demand, and market growth rate to assist businesses to find current & upcoming market opportunities and develop effective ways to optimise their market positions in the Transportation,Transportation Infrastructure sector. The report also contains a comprehensive market and prominent vendor’s landscape in addition to a SWOT analysis of the Top key vendors.

The report can be used by Business forecasters, industry consultants, Investment Adviser, Strategy Advisor also established as well as new entrants to live competitive positions in dynamic market situations. Our Industry expert’s project Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions market to grow at a CAGR of 9.97% during the period 2019-2023.

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About Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market:

The rising development of smart airports is one of the key drivers expected to trigger the market’s growth in the forthcoming years. There has been a significant evolution in airport operations from Airport 1.0 to Airport 2.0. The rising popularity of Airport 2.0 and growing investments for integrating technological advances in modern airport operations is leading to the emergence of smart airports. The deployment of smart airports will increase the efficiency and profitability of several stakeholders including airport operators, airlines, and passengers during volatile economic conditions. This will further create significant opportunities for the airport smart baggage handling solutions market to flourish in the next few years.

The emergence of robotic baggage handling systems is one of the key trends expected to gain traction in the market. Innovative technologies are being introduced at the airports because of the continuous advances in robotics and digital communications for enhancing the passenger travel experience. Vendors are increasingly integrating robotic technology for providing the most appropriate level of automation to airports, airlines, and handlers. Additionally, the introduction of fully-autonomous baggage-handling robots to automate the baggage process will further gain traction in the market. The airport smart baggage handling solutions market will grow at a CAGR of over 11% during the forecast period.

Key vendors operating in Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions market space are:

  • Daifuku Co. Ltd., Leonardo Società per azioni, Siemens AG, SITA, Vanderlande Industries B.V

Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market Trend, Challenge and Driver: –

Airport smart baggage handling solutions market segmentation based on products

  • Smart baggage and tracking devices
  • Smart baggage screening devices

Do You Have Any Query or Specific Requirement? Ask Our Industry Expert with Your Corporate E-mail ID @

Consumer Landscape: –

The key to any successful business is understanding the new demands of the customers and keeping a close watch on the changing model of the client base. The more you engage with your client base, the clearer you are about the most productive ways in which to hook your ideal customer. Predicting what your customers want, even before they themselves know about it, is the first step to profitable innovation.

Geographical Segmentation of Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market: Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, South America, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Influencing Factors of Market:

  • Market Environment: Government Policies, Market Risks, Technological Changes,
  • Market Drivers: Progressing Demand, Cost Reduction, Market Opportunities, Limits, and Challenges.
  • Market Size: Global Size, by Type/Product Category, Applications/End Users, and By Regions/Geography.
  • Key Data: Market Size, Market Share, Product Sales Price, Growth, and Growth Rate.

This Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions market research is the result of

  1. Quantitative analysis: – Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market size and forecast, Market segmentation, Geographical insights, Competitive landscape.
  2. Qualitative analysis: – Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Market drivers, Market challenges, Market trends, Five forces analysis.
  3. Primary research: –Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Industry journals and periodicals, Government bodies, Annual reports of key stakeholders.
  4. Secondary research: – Airport Smart Baggage Handling Solutions Manufacturers/suppliers, Channel partners, Industry experts, Strategic decision makers.
  5. Data synthesis: – Collation of data, Estimation of key figures, Analysis of derived insights.
  6. Data validation: – Triangulation with data models, Reference against proprietary, databases, Corroboration with industry experts.
  7. Other Analyses:- Apart from The Aforementioned Information, Trade and Distribution Analysis for The Manufactured Housing Industry, SWOT Analysis for New Projects and Feasibility Analysis for New Investment Are Included.

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Global Airport Robots Market Growth, Trends, and Forecasts 2019-2024

Global Airport Robots Market Growth, Trends, and Forecasts 2019-2024: Focus on Valet Parking, Airport Security, Boarding Pass Scanning, Passenger Guidance, & Airport Baggage Handling Systems

DUBLIN, March 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The “Airport Robots Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 – 2024)” report has been added to’s offering.

The airport robots market is estimated to register a CAGR of over 15% during the forecast period, 2019-2024.

Various airports worldwide are making use of robots that are helping airport officials interact with passengers and provide them assistance at the airport. Moreover, airports across the world are engaged in conducting trials with robots, in terms of providing information, guidance, and entertainment solutions to passengers. Additionally, robots have also been introduced for cleaning, as well as security services. The increasing number of robots being used in airports worldwide is likely to drive the growth of the market in the near future.

The introduction of advanced technology robots to improve airport services is expected to lead to enhanced customer experience, in the years to come.

The increasing adoption of artificial intelligence, as well as chatbots, for handling airline bookings and queries is expected to provide growth opportunities for the market in the future.

Scope of the Report

Airport robots is a new-age concept that has been introduced in several airports, worldwide. In the coming years, robots are set to replace airport staff, in terms of airport operation handling. The integration of artificial intelligence within airports may lead to robots performing airport operations, such as airport cleaning, providing security services, baggage handling, and may also act as passenger guidance systems.

The market study includes the various applications of robots in valet parking, airport security, boarding pass scanning, passenger guidance, as well as airport baggage handling system.

Key Market Trends

Autonomous Robots are Helping the Airport Security Segment

Currently, the airport security segment has the highest share among all the segments. Airport security is one of the biggest concerns faced by airport officials, worldwide. The rise in terrorism worldwide has led to airport officials taking extra precaution and being highly focused toward airport security. In order to prevent any unwanted incidents, airports around the world have taken a step further and have started the testing of autonomous robots, which is expected to help security officials provide adequate security at the airport.

Airports, such as Hamad International Airport and La Guardia Airport, have started deploying security robots to provide the next level of airport security. The robots come equipped with an in-built facial recognition system, cameras, and sensors. They can measure pulse rate remotely, and thus, detect suspicious persons, credit cards, fake currencies, abandoned objects, and explosives, without disturbing the passenger flow at the airport terminal.

Developments in Airport Security in Asia-Pacific, Especially China

In the airport robots market, the growth of the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be more during the forecast period. China is one of the fastest-growing air travel markets. According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association), China is set to displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market, by mid-2020. The rebalancing of China’s economy is likely to support strong passenger demand over the long term.

Moreover, since 2017, Shenzhen Bao’an Airport in China is engaged in operating Anbot, a robot programmed to carry out security checks at the departure hall of Terminal 3. Developed by Shenzhen Public Security Bureau and the Chinese National Defense University, the robot has been fitted with four high-definition cameras, as well as a facial recognition software, which can take pictures of passengers and send them for analysis at security stations. Such developments are expected to have a positive impact on the growth of the market.

Competitive Landscape

The airport robots market is consolidated, with only a handful of players controlling the market. LG Electronics Inc. and Stanley Robotics SAS are the leading players in the market. Both the companies have been occupying leading positions in the market for a long time. The companies have been engaged in various initiatives and product innovations, which have led them to strengthen their presence in the market.

For example, LG Electronics Ltd reported setting trial services for a number of airport guide robots, as well as airport cleaning robots, at the Incheon International Airport, South Korea.

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Data and AI – Piloting Airports into the Future

Artificial Intelligence offers a new way to build an efficient and enjoyable airport operation

Sahadev Singh

Sahadev Singh Wipro

Airports are evolving from being a transport hub to becoming an experience hub, and the future is all about a seamless and personalized passenger experience. Airports are investing billions of dollars into large scale infrastructure projects, modernization of facilities and particularly in cutting edge technologies to deliver a personalized, seamless, secure and new age airport experience. The entire passenger journey from parking to check-in, security, immigration, retail, wayfinding, and boarding can be transformed with the help of technology. In addition, technology will be a key enabler in addressing capacity challenges and increased complexity of operations evident from the fact that more than 1.5 billion passengers passed through the 20 busiest airports in the world in 2017.

Airports are evolving from being a transport hub to becoming an experience hub, and the future is all about a seamless and personalized passenger experience. Airports are investing billions of dollars into large scale infrastructure projects, modernization of facilities and particularly in cutting edge technologies to deliver a personalized, seamless, secure and new age airport experience. The entire passenger journey from parking to check-in, security, immigration, retail, wayfinding, and boarding can be transformed with the help of technology. In addition, technology will be a key enabler in addressing capacity challenges and increased complexity of operations evident from the fact that more than 1.5 billion passengers passed through the 20 busiest airports in the world in 2017.

Getting smarter – the intelligent airport

Among the several new age technologies that have, potential to significantly transform the passenger experience and airport operations, Artificial Intelligence (AI) looks most promising. AI systems could be the invisible threads that connect multiple interaction points – delivering required assistance, insights, or functionalities where and when needed. AI systems could interact with passengers and staff, manage connected devices, and control intelligent machines. For instance, imagine an AI-powered robot equipped with biometric scanning helping you check into your flight in a language of your choice, collect your bags, conduct a security scan and hand you a smart boarding card that will guide you to your gate.

Needless to say, the potential gains from AI applications in airports are immense. Airports are already investing in AI for the following:

Personalized Passenger Communication

Personalized customer service is a major focus across industries, and airports are no exception. Airports are increasingly making themselves available to interact with passengers through multiple channels to ensure passengers have access to information anytime-anywhere. Also, airports are leveraging insights into the passenger’s journey and behavior coupled with AI to automate these interactions through chatbot, AI enabled website, mobile app and contact center, wayfinding, smart robots, Click and Collect and personalized retail promotions. This is evident from the fact that 42% of airports plan to adopt AI-driven chatbot services[ii].

Seamless Curb to Gate Experience

AI systems connected to smart devices can also enable a far superior user experience. The check-in to boarding process could be made more user-friendly, seamless and requiring minimal input from passengers. Some airports have already taken the next step with biometrics / facial recognition enabled check-in, security as well as boarding process like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport which recently announced the first fully biometric US airport terminal for Delta airlines[iii]. Many airports have adopted self-bag drop kiosks that automatically checks-in the bags and eGates / automated border control systems for passport checks, boarding, and immigration. Accuracy and efficiency of these smart systems can greatly be enhanced by leveraging AI and Machine Learning thus reducing the manual intervention required.

Resilient and Efficient Airport Operations

The complexity of airport operations increases greatly due to the ripple effects that each unplanned event can have. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States in 2012, more than 15,000 flights arriving in New York and other east coast airports were canceled[iv]. AI-based prediction and planning system can enable airport readiness to handle such events proactively.

While harsh weather can surely grind flight operations to halt, more than 90% of flight delays actually happen due to inefficiencies in the turnaround time (i.e. fueling, catering, cleaning etc.) in making an aircraft ready for flight[v]. AI, which is embedded in airport operations via connected devices and connected systems, can analyze real-time data and help with real-time decision making for operational incidents.

Also, several airports are piloting the use of AI and predictive analytics to improve airport resource management and assets maintenance. The benefits include improved allocation check-in, security, immigration support staff to optimize the passenger processing times and reduce delays and queues; effective and efficient utilization of airport resources like gates and check-in resources to maximize the capacity; and preventing impact to airport operations by reducing the breakdown of physical assets through predictive maintenance.

Boosting Airport Security

Security checkpoints are major pain points in a travelers’ journey – yet, they are essential to ensuring, safety of all personnel and passengers. The process of separately scanning every bag, removing articles of clothing such as shoes and belts, taking out items such as laptops for scanning, is a time consuming and inconvenient process. Introducing AI in security systems can help identify potential threats faster than a human operator could. If a significant number of people, bags, and cargo are automatically cleared, human intervention will be needed only for a few exceptional cases, reducing the overall time and effort involved. Some projects in this area are already underway. In 2018, the UK government invested in trialing of new AI-based security systems to boost security and alleviate wait times across some of the country’s busiest airports.

Unfortunately, even with the promise of significant benefits, today’s airports are nowhere near AI ready. One key reason why the uptake is slow is inertia – no one wants to disrupt operations and take on new costs with no precedent of ROI. Still, nascent steps have been taken, and we will only continue to witness a rise in AI adoption. The question is – are you ready to move to the next orbit?

Sahadev Singh is the Global head of Wipro’s Engineering and Construction services business. With over 25 years of experience in helping customers unlock value from their IT investments and drive business transformation strategies, Sahadev is a highly respected advisor to Wipro’s E&C industry customers and partners. Under Sahadev’s leadership, Wipro has built long terms strategic partnerships with leading global enterprises and established a proven track record for delivering predictable business value across a range of industry sectors. He has cultivated an extensive network within Wipro and its partners, and is able to leverage this network to meet client’s challenging needs. 

Facial recognition takes off at airports. Privacy experts want it grounded

A growing Customs and Border Protection program pits convenience and security against privacy.

A woman's face appears on a screen while an airport official stands close by.
A station manager for Swedish airline SAS ushers a boarding passenger through the process as officials at Washington Dulles Airport. Bill O’Leary/Getty Images

In the not too distant future, you could walk into the international terminal of almost any US airport and board a plane without showing anyone your passport. 

At the check-in counter, you’d pose in front of a camera that scans your face and sends your image to a remote system that matches it to a stored copy of your passport photo. You’d have your photo taken again at the security line, and again at the gate. If everything still matched up, you’d be on board, quietly warring with your seat mate over the armrest.

Part of that automated future has already rolled out. The US Customs and Border Protection program, called Biometric Exit, includes a face-matching system and is used at departure gates in 17 airports in the US.

And that’s just the start. The agency plans to have the system scan 97 percent of all outbound international travelers by 2021. Airlines and the Transportation Security Agency also are testing facial recognition cameras throughout airports, meaning you might someday be able to travel without interacting with another human being at all.

“US Customs and Border Protection is changing the face of travel with its cloud-based facial biometric matching service,” the agency says in a pamphlet explaining the technology. “This matching service is envisioned to replace the need to manually check paper travel documents by providing an automated identity verification process everywhere a traveler shows their travel document across every step in the travel continuum.”

There may be no more dramatic example of the tension between convenience and privacy inherent in facial recognition than the prospect of giving up your identity to clear through security faster. That benefit, after all, comes at a cost. Academic research has shown that facial recognition algorithms have error rates that vary depending on a person’s race or gender, meaning some groups could face extra screening more often than others. The technology can be used without your knowledge. And the unalterable data that facial recognition systems collect — an image of your face — raises concerns that your movements can be tracked over the course of your life if the records are kept indefinitely.

CBP says facial recognition technology has the potential to make travel both more convenient and more secure because it creates a digital template that’s unique to you. Machines are getting faster at matching faces and, CBP says, do a better job than humans do.

But critics say CBP has already pushed — and possibly broken — the boundaries of the US law. One specific complaint: The technology has debuted in airports without being subject to a public comment period.

The potential for multiple government agencies to track you using facial recognition is real, says Jeramie Scott, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. In recently released documents his organization obtained, CBP noted that other government agencies with an interest in the photos of foreign nationals gathered at airports are Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Coast Guard.

“When you create the infrastructure for widespread use of facial recognition, people will find additional ways to use it,” Scott said.

CBP says the program isn’t intended for surveillance and was implemented in accordance with the law. US citizens can opt out, and the agency doesn’t keep their images long term.

How it works

The system is designed to be a snap: The airport or airline you’re flying with takes your picture at the gate, sending the encrypted image to CBP’s Traveler Verification Service system, which runs on a cloud server. There, CBP’s face-matching algorithm confirms that the person in the image is the same one that’s in your passport photo.

The system does this by creating a biometric template based on the passenger’s photograph. The template is a set of measurements of the size and shape of features, like eyes, and the distance between features, like your nose and upper lip. The system compares that template to a preloaded gallery of passenger photos, pulled from passports and other sources.

Facial recognition 101: Everything you need to know about face-matching tech

Airlines including JetBlue, British Airways and Delta, along with organizations that run airports in cities like Miami and San Jose, California, have already partnered with CBP to implement the system. The airlines or airports own the cameras and take passenger photos. In Atlanta, Delta Air Lines has introduced facial recognition checks throughout its international terminal in partnership with CBP and TSA.

CBP says it keeps photos of US citizens in the Traveler Verification Service system for 12 hours, and photos of noncitizens for 14 days. It also sends photos of noncitizens to the US Department of Homeland Security IDENT database, which stores information for 75 years on visitors to the US.

The airlines and airports aren’t allowed to keep copies of the photos and must immediately purge them from their systems, according to CBP. However, they’re allowed to use other photos they take with the same cameras for commercial purposes. That means they could take a second photo and use it in their own facial recognition system to target ads to you.

Airlines and airports are required to tell CBP if they plan to use photos for commercial purposes. So far, none has. JetBlue and Delta said separately that they don’t have plans to use facial recognition for commercial purposes, and added that their cameras capture images only when a passenger stands in front of the camera and actively triggers the scan. A spokeswoman for Mineta San Jose Airport says it only facilitates the CBP program and doesn’t have access to the photos.

Legal authority

The program has raised questions about its legality. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations say there’s no law that allows CBP to collect biometric information on US citizens, regardless of how long it’s stored. What’s more, they say, the agency’s choice to use facial recognition, rather than biometrics like fingerprints, is unnecessarily invasive.

CBP says a number of laws allow it to gather biometric information. For example, the law that established the Department of Homeland Security, CBP’s parent agency, gives it the authority to use technology to get all the data it needs for the biometric entry and exit program.

Congress first ordered the collection of biometric data from foreign nationals entering and exiting the country in 1996. It ordered the creation of a biometric entry-exit program in 2002 and authorized funds for it in 2016. However, privacy law experts point out that while some of the laws CBP cites apply specifically to noncitizens, none of them explicitly references situations involving citizens.

“US citizens have been conspicuously absent from the statutory text of every law under this program for the last 14 years,” according to a 2017 report by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology.

If a US citizen opts out of the Biometric Exit program, the passenger can have his or her travel documents and passport checked by an airline employee, CBP says. If something doesn’t check out, the airline can ask a CBP officer for assistance.

A woman stands in an airport boarding gate in front of a kiosk with two screens showing a photo of her face.
A passenger steps up to a new biometric facial recognition scanner at Washington Dulles Airport. Bill O’Leary/Getty Images

Agencies like CBP typically go through a rule-making process to explain how new programs implement the underlying law and get feedback from the public. That hasn’t happened with the Biometric Exit program.

In a proposed rule, CBP wants to require US citizens to submit to facial recognition both at boarding and re-entry to the US.

Simply asking people whether they’re citizens before requiring them to submit to facial recognition would lead to people lying, CBP says. The agency says that biometric facial recognition is more accurate than humans checking passport photos against a person’s face, so it’s better at catching people traveling fraudulently with US passports. The system caught three imposters at Washington Dulles Airport in a period of 40 days, according to CBP.

Error rates

Academic studies have shown that some facial recognition algorithms are less accurate for some groups of people depending on their skin color and gender. One study found that commercial facial recognition products from companies like Amazon and Microsoft had higher error rates for black women. Others were more likely to give false negatives to white men, according to research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

A false negative — the algorithm incorrectly says your face doesn’t match your photo — has the potential to make travel more inconvenient for legitimate passengers. It would be unfair for some groups of people to face additional screening more often than others, advocates say.

“We’re talking about something that discriminates based off of what you look like,” said Mana Azarmi, policy council at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Without oversight, it would be hard to know whether the system has higher error rates for some groups of people. CBP is working with NIST and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to monitor problems, the agency says. CBP hasn’t revealed its false negative or other error rates, or how they affect different groups. CBP told Buzzfeed that it confirms 98.6 percent of passengers who go through the Biometric Exit system.

Face forward

Even if CBP had full legal authority to collect biometric information from all passengers before they leave the country, privacy advocates think facial recognition isn’t the right biometric to collect.

That’s because facial recognition can be conducted without targets realizing it. The technology doesn’t require physical contact, as fingerprints do, and it’s progressing so that low-quality photos taken from the side are sufficient to identify someone. Once people realize that facial recognition is unavoidable at airports, they may become discouraged from traveling and taking part in political activity, like the 2017 protests in US airports against travel bans, advocates say.

In a November report on the program, CBP said the system is preferable because passengers experience it as being less invasive than fingerprints.

But perception isn’t what matters, said Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU.

“These are programs that have such an extreme effect on people’s rights,” she said, “and a process that’s not transparent.”

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Bots, A.I, wearables and VR to create billion-dollar savings in the tourism industry

The impact of disruptive technologies on the tourism industry is set to create multi-billion dollar savings through the use of IoT, robotics, artificial intelligence (A.I), Virtual Reality (VR) and wearable technology according to data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 28 April – 1 May 2019.

The latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM 2019, reveals that in addition to vast cost savings, the customer experience is set to be more streamlined with travel set to become better, smoother and more personalised with travel bookings on VR platforms, AI chatbots guiding customers through the booking process and IOT providing internet based inter-connectivity between everyday devices.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Technology, and the use of technology, is evolving every day. The tourism industry is at the very forefront of tech innovation with companies investing huge sums of money to improve the customer journey and experience.

“Airports and airlines accounted for US$30 billion of investment in IT in 2018, however this will be offset by the implementation of technology that will see fuel savings alone top US$30 billion in the next 15 years.

“We’ve seen incredible developments in recent years, SITA, the multinational tech company to the air transport industry for example, is using robots to check travelers onto flights and to transport their luggage, while, although in the infancy stage, robots have been used in some hotels to welcome guests and show them to their room.”

ATM 2019 has adopted cutting-edge technology and innovation as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar sessions.

Running throughout the event, professionals from across the industry spectrum will discuss the ongoing unprecedented digital disruption, and the emergence of innovative technologies that will fundamentally alter the way in which the hospitality industry operates in the region.

Discussing the defining evolutions of hospitality technology, the Travel Tech Show will return to ATM 2019 with 45 dedicated international exhibitors and an influential agenda of discussion and debate in the Travel Tech Theatre – sponsored by Sabre Corporation.

Launching this year will be the inaugural Arabian Travel Week, an umbrella brand which comprises four co-located shows: ATM 2019; CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – a new route development forum, ILTM Arabia and new consumer-led event – ATM Holiday Shopper.

Curtis said: “The success of both ATM and ILTM Arabia has provided us with the platform to not only introduce two new events for 2019 – but to create a travel week which encompasses the Middle East’s inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism and luxury travel as well as providing a dedicated networking forum, CONNECT  Middle East India & Africa 2019 for the region’s top airline specialists, aviation authorities, tourism boards, airports and tour operators.”

Another debutant this year is the Arabia China Tourism Forum at ATM which takes place on the Global Stage on Sunday 28th April. With China set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030, an expert panel will discuss how destinations around the world can capitalise on this growth. The forum will also include a 30-minute networking session with over 80 Chinese buyers.

Once again, we are delighted to be working with our partners UNWTO and welcoming back the UNWTO Ministers Summit which will also take place on the Global Stage on Sunday 28th April.

Other Global Stage highlights will include a focused seminar on Saudi Arabia’s tourism potential, the Global Halal Tourism Summit and the debut ATM Hotel Industry Summit which will host various expert panels to debate and provide an insight on the latest hotel developments and innovative digital infrastructure shaping the future of the hospitality sector.

Following a successful launch last year, the second edition of ATM Student Conference – ‘Career in Travel’ will return on the final day of ATM. This programme allows students and graduates to listen to a range of guest speakers and travel industry leaders. It will also help provide a greater understanding of the industry and potential career paths.

As well as the ultra-innovative Travel Tech Show at ATM, other features returning to the show repertoire this year include the Digital Influencers and Buyers’ Speed Networking Events which will feature 20 Chinese buyers for the first time, the ATM Best Stand Awards and the Travel Agents Academy.

ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2018 event, showcasing the largest exhibition in the history of the show, with hotels comprising 20% of the floor area.

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2019, please log on to:

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International Airport Review Issue 1 2019

In this issue: ensuring operational efficiency during the winter season, using passenger projections to create a seamless experience, and how AI can enhance threat detection.

IAR issue 1 2019 magazine

I am happy to be contacted by the following sponsors:NATS

Included in this edition:

    Collaboration in the global aviation system
    Karen Dee, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association
    A smarter way to cut the queues
    Eman Al-Hillawi and Matthew Garrett, Entec Si
    Keeping snowfall under control
    Lars Faurschou, Head of Airside Support, Copenhagen Airports A/S
    Reimagining security screening to relieve checkpoint pressures
    Nathalie Herbelles, Head of Security, ACI World
    Why ATM reform matters
    David McMillan, Chair, ATM Policy Institute
    Information makes the airport go around
    Christian Poulsen, Vice President of Assets and Technology, Copenhagen Airports