A facial recognition system is to expedite immigration procedures at Incheon Airport from next year. The system scans the photo on a passport to store in a database and then takes a photo of the passport holder to make a comparison. Once introduced, it is expected to reduce the clearance process to 15 seconds.
The airport has been operating two automatic clearance gates with a facial recognition system on a trial basis since last year, and another 14 will be set up this year.
"Immigration procedures are shifting from fingerprinting or iris scan to face recognition. It's an international trend," an airport spokesman said.
"As all the information about your face is stored in a database, including the size and shape of pupils, nose and mouth, the accuracy is very high," claimed Samsung SDS, the developer. The pupil data are important as pupils cannot be changed with makeup or plastic surgery, it added.
The airport said about six months of tests last year revealed an accuracy of 92 to 94 percent. In Australia, New Zealand and Portugal, airports already have the facial recognition system, and it is being installed in the Netherlands.
The Korea Immigration Service has not decided when to start putting the system into full operation. According to the immigration office at Incheon Airport, it is still being tested and its introduction will only be possible when accuracy reaches reliable levels. Currently, the airport's automatic gates are based on fingerprinting.