Smile, you’re on Changi camera: Facial recognition at Singapore’s airport

Facial recognition

Airport terminals are confusing and chaotic. It’s easy to get lost, but Changi airport in Singapore is trying to change that. Source: Anete Lusina / Unsplash

WHEN you hear the “bing- bong” over the loudspeaker at the airport, you pray your name isn’t called.

You panic that you’ve read the wrong flight time, go to grab all your bags and get ready to run. Just then, someone else’s name is announced and you sink back into your chair.

However, for an unlucky few, their names are called as they’re about to miss the flight.

Even if they make the plane, they have to endure furious stares of other passengers who are now delayed because of them.

But Singapore’s Changi airport thinks it’s got a solution to this frequent problem – facial recognition.

The airport is currently testing facial recognition systems which can track the whereabouts of late passengers.

Whether they’re roaming around the duty-free or genuinely lost, late passengers have a knock-on effect on the rest of the day.

“We have lots of reports of lost passengers … so one possible use case we can think of is, we need to detect and find people who are on the flight. Of course, with permission from the airline,” Steve Lee, Changi Airport Group’s chief information officer told Reuters.

The proposed facial recognition cameras will be plonked on top of lampposts around the terminals.

Also, to avoid critics pulling out the “big brother” card, with permission from each airline, the images captured from check-in and security will be used to detect the wanderers.

Lee added that the technology should be ready within a year but declined to tell Reuters which technology and security companies Changi airport is working with.

This is by no means an invitation to lose track of time but given the systems will be able to sift through 1.8 million faces in three seconds, it means missing a flight if you’re already in the terminal will be hard to do.