Australia wants to replace passports with facial-recognition technology

tokyo 2020 olympics facial recognition
Artem Oleshko/Shutterstock
If you’re the type of traveler that can never remember which pocket you put your passport in when asked to produce it by airport officials, then Australia’s plan for a major overhaul of its checking systems is likely to appeal.

The nation’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aiming to do away with the need for passports at its international airports by introducing systems for biometric recognition of the face, iris and/or fingerprints, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.

International arrivals could speed through airside without ever interacting with a human official as the new technology – part of the government’s high-tech Seamless Traveler initiative aimed at transforming the border experience – will eradicate the need for passport checks and passenger cards. Besides making the arrival experience more efficient, officials also believe the system will be better at identifying passengers on watch lists.

While a number of airports have for several years been using so-called smart gates that prompt travelers to scan their passports upon arrival, the new system, which the government wants in place within the next three years, goes much further.

The authorities plan to trial the new technology at Canberra airport from July before taking it to a busier airport, such as Sydney and Melbourne, for further testing in November. However, it’s admitted that it’s yet to decide on the specific system it wants to use, and is inviting tenderers to come up with innovative solutions.

John Coyne, head of border security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the SMH the plan is to “streamline” the arrivals process so international travelers will be able to “literally just walk out like at a domestic airport,” adding that the system “could be a world first.”

Of course, while the idea of getting through immigration more quickly is sure to appeal to any tired airline passenger coming off a long flight, it’s worth keeping in mind that the new system may just mean you spend more time waiting for your baggage to show up on the carousel.

Oh, and you’ll still need your passport for when you return to your home country, so do try to remember which pocket you leave it in.

Emerging Tech

Airport hotel builds a full-sized flight simulator into one of its guest rooms

Aviation enthusiasts flying out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, there's a new hotel room designed just for you. It features a full-sized Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, though you'll have to pay extra to use it.
Movies & TV

Here are the best shows on Netflix right now (July 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Photography

Get your photos off your phone and on your PC with these tips

If you haven't already, you should back up your photos to a computer. Here's how to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC using third-party services and a wealth of storage devices.
Mobile

The best iOS and Android calendar apps to help you organize a chaotic day

There are numerous calendar apps available on iOS and Android, but separating the good from the bad can be difficult. Thankfully, we rounded up 15 of the best calendar apps to help you better organize your affairs.
Emerging Tech

Meet NASA’s climbing robots, able to move through the slipperiest environments

When it comes to exploring far off planets, robots need to be able to tackle all sorts of environmental challenges. NASA has been working on a series of climbing robots to take on different tasks in inhospitable environments.
Emerging Tech

Bouncing robot for low-gravity space missions has a spring in its step

The European Space Agency has created SpaceBok, a robot inspired by the springbok designed for low-gravity dynamic walking. On the moon, SpaceBok could potentially jump as high as two meters into the air.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods looks to make another splash with fishless fish

Impossible Foods is currently developing fishless fish, in response to the growing demand for plant-based food. The product will include heme, a protein from genetically modified yeast that was also used in the Impossible Burger.
Cars

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Drone lens, laser synth, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Professional poker players no match for A.I. in six-player Texas Hold ’em

Poker AI Pluribus destroyed professional players in Texas Hold 'em. The bot won an average of $5 per hand with winnings of $1,000 per hour, with strategies that were very different to how humans played the game.
Emerging Tech

Russia launches X-ray observatory capable of locating thousands of black holes

Russia has finally launched its powerful X-ray observatory, Spektr-RG, after a delay caused by faulty batteries on board the spacecraft. The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 13, taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Emerging Tech

See a gargantuan dust storm covering the north pole of Mars

A dust storm around Mars' north pole has been imaged by the Mars Express orbiter. Localized dust storms are common on Mars, but occasionally one expands into a planet-wide event like the one which caused the demise of the Opportunity rover.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope captures the beautiful remnants of a dying star

The VLT has captured a beautiful cosmic object, the planetary nebula named Abell 24. Located in constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog), it is a swirl of dust and gas which is illuminated by the core of a dead star.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers have spotted a moon forming around a proto-Jupiter

Astronomers have spotted a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it which is similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is in the process of forming and is located 370 light-years away.
Emerging Tech

Stallone in Terminator 2? How one deepfake prankster is changing cinema history

Ever wanted to see The Shining with Jim Carrey instead of Jack Nicholson? How about Stallone in Terminator 2: Judgement Day instead of everyone's favorite governator? Thanks to deepfakes, it's now possible -- just ask YouTuber Ctrl Shift…