October 2018: Facing up to the future

Miguel Leitmann, Vision Box CEO, reveals how the latest trend for airports to create a seamless, curb-to-cabin passenger processing experience means that biometrics are becoming the new normal.

A multinational biometrics technology company with its headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal, Vision-Box works alongside airports, airlines, governments and private entities to develop and deploy smart identity management solutions. Its aim is to improve the experience of passengers by developing and deploying next-generation passenger flow management solutions that combine advanced biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and other emerging technologies.

What is Vision-Box’s end goal?

We have been spearheading digital transformation programmes for numerous airports, airlines and governments around the world, with the aim of creating consistent, seamless end-to-end experiences for passengers.

Our goal is to accomplish a comfortable, stress-free journey with no obstacles, complicated processes, or even paper documents. We are experts in deploying collaborative digital management platforms that allow for shared services and data between airports, airlines and governments.

Can you tell us about your work at Aruba Airport?

In 2015, we launched the Vision-Box Happy Flow at Aruba Airport in the Caribbean. It was the first 100% biometric traveller clearance model. It’s a complete curb-to-cabin solution that relies on face recognition and on an orchestration platform to process passengers in a contactless manner, without having to present passports or boarding passes at every step of the journey.

We have since worked with a number of other airports that are engaging in modernisation programmes as part of their digital transformation. Los Angeles International Airport is one of the latest hubs to partner with Vision-Box. It is trialling a contactless biometric self-boarding solution, which is helping passengers board their aircraft in just a few seconds, simply by looking into a camera.

Is your solution scalable for all sizes of airport?

Vision-Box solutions process 700 million passengers every year, in over 80 airports in five continents. Our experience ranges from some of the busiest airports in the world, such as Schiphol Amsterdam, Dubai and JFK to smaller airports, mostly in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.

We are lucky enough to have crossed paths with many different airports and airlines, diverse in size, culture and challenges but alike in their will to innovate, modernise their services and enhance the passenger experience.

How does the technology work?

The Seamless Flow vision takes advantage of diverse technological advancements, such as biometric enrolment and recognition, AI and big data. It combines them to improve the overall passenger experience and management capability of the airport through automation, passenger self-service, digital data analysis and networked connectivity.

We offer automated self-service processes using single token biometric identification for a quick, secure, and simple clearance process across the airport. The outdated need to verify passengers’ eligibility to travel multiple times across their journey is replaced by a single identity vetting moment at check-in. Biometric human-centric smart devices engineer quick, on-the-move transactions, capturing and authenticating facial features as passengers evolve through the digital ecosystem. There is no need to present their documents or even stop at any clearance point.

These passenger interaction points have a low footprint and benefit from a common-use approach, whereby passengers can use any self-service biometric touchpoint, regardless of the airline they are using. This requires a much smaller digital and physical footprint: less servers, touchpoints, space and energy consumption.

With our vision of a seamless experience, passengers can take advantage of a frictionless self-processing operation and a simple glance to a camera when passing through checkpoints. Our technology also enables passengers to use their cell phone or facial scan to book a service, make purchases, be instantly alerted about their travel plans, and receive information on their interests as related to their location at the airport with special offers and discounts at airport retailers and restaurants.

Vision-Box recently agreed to launch paperless biometric self-boarding at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, South India. Do you plan to roll out similar solutions for other regional hubs in India?

The Seamless Flow initiative in Kempegowda International Airport will be the first end-to-end face recognition-based walk-through experience in Asia and the largest in the world.

We are actively investing in the Indian market to accelerate the introduction of biometric digital identity solutions and seamless travel technology. We recently opened an office in New Delhi and in addition, we are planning to create a competence centre in Bangalore – the heart of India’s ICT industry.

What is the biggest challenge the aviation sector faces in terms of biometric technology?

The biggest obstacle the aviation sector faces is the partitioned, non-collaborative data management model. Governments, airports, airlines and border control authorities keep information on passengers and don’t share it. It is a fair concern, considering that their activity is dependent on the use of personal data and it is their responsibility to safeguard its privacy.

However, the fact that information is divided in silos is creating a fragmented, uneven environment, lacking synergies between stakeholders, including the passengers who have to endure repeated clearance processes with different needs, requirements and routines. The key question to consider now is how governments and industry can develop a multi-stakeholder approach that defines the use of personal data.

What is in the pipeline for Vision-Box?

We are forecasting a steady performance as the demand for seamless flow technologies increases. Vision-Box will continue to engage with pioneering airports, airlines and governments to support them in laying out their digital transformation strategies.

Inevitably the coming years will see a deep transformation of the airport sector, marked by a digital revolution that spans the entire operation of airports and airlines and will have a deep effect in the way we perceive travel.

This transformational wave will impact major travel hubs, but also extensively cover those that serve regional, business and low-fare travel. Regional aviation partners actually represent a very fertile soil for collaborative initiatives that promote the flourishing of innovation and ground-breaking passenger-centric experiences.

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