Manchester Airport conducts biometrics trial

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Manchester Airport’s passengers will be invited to participate in the trial of a system that can recognise an individual’s iris while they walk around.

The trial of the system, which was developed by Human Recognition Systems, will last for two weeks in the airport’s Terminal 1. Passengers register after check-in so that their iris can be used to identify them as they enter the security search area.

The technology could have a variety of future applications to speed up the identification of passengers.

For example, it might allow international transfer passengers to mix with domestic passengers in a departure lounge because they can be securely identified before boarding their flight. Currently, arriving passengers from overseas who are connecting to another international flight in Manchester remain separated from domestic passengers to protect the integrity of UK border security.

The airport already uses iris-recognition technology to manage staff access into sensitive areas of the airport. Immigration authorities also use it for pre-registered people arriving back into the UK. However, the current system requires users to look directly into a device that uses photo-recognition software to authenticate individuals.

The trial is one of several currently taking place at airports across the UK as part of a government programme called Innovative Science and Technology IN Counter-Terrorism, or INSTINCT.

Run by the Home Office, INSTINCT looks to identify and trial innovative counter-terrorism technologies, solutions or ideas.