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NEC face recognition system cuts queues

Face recognition could help eliminate queues in places like airports and immigration.

Long lines at airport check-ins and immigration control could soon be history if NEC 's sophisticated new face recognition system gains widespread acceptance.

The Japanese firm's NeoFace (Japanese link) technology is currently being trialled by Hong Kong's immigration authorities at the territory's road border with Shenzhen in mainland China. The system combines face recognition software with video cameras to recognise people inside vehicles at the checkpoint, thereby saving the time it would take to manually process them individually.

Face time

Cameras first single out a number plate for the software to check against a database of vehicle owners. They then seek out and compare the face of the actual driver with that of the listed owner - if they tally, the vehicle is allowed to proceed. If not, manual processing and documentation checks are required.

Although it works only for HGV drivers at the minute, NEC claims it will be able to recognise as many as eight people in non-commercial vehicles before long. Successful trials on a larger scale could see the technology used in many more places where identity checks now create bottlenecks.