The effort to reduce touchpoints in the airport isn’t just a temporary measure for the COVID-19 era, it’s introducing new technologies that will likely stick around long after.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has just started testing a new self-service facial recognition system, which would replace the requirement to hand your ID to TSA officers. With the new technology, currently being trialed at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, volunteer passengers simply insert their ID into scanners, which then verifies their flight information and their identities by comparing the ID’s photograph to their live photo.
In a statement, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said, “We are exploring rapid testing and deployment of this touchless, self-service technology. At the conclusion of the pilot, we expect to be able to determine how positioning the new technology will allow passengers to use it themselves thereby providing a safer checkpoint experience, while adding significant security benefits.”
TSA agents will still be on hand to examine the facial recognition results and flight information, and to ensure passengers use the device properly. If the trial goes well, TSA plans to deploy the new technology at airports across the United States.
And if you’re concerned the agency will store your photo for government use, don’t be. The TSA is assuring passengers that photographs are not saved, nor do the machines have the ability to do so.