Airport iris-scan system rollout extended

Biometric immigration technology eyes up Heathrow
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Biometric immigration technology eyes up Heathrow

Iris-scanning immigration control technology has been rolled out to another terminal at Heathrow Airport.

Frequent travellers using Heathrow Terminal 1 can use the Iris Recognition Immigration System (Iris) to enter the UK without queuing to see an immigration officer at passport control.

Travellers signed up for the scheme walk up to an automated barrier, simply look into a camera and - if the system recognises them - enter the UK.

This biometric technology stores an image of the passenger's iris patterns and their passport details.

Only those individuals who have had their details authenticated by an immigration officer are able to use the technology.

Terminal 1 is the third terminal at Heathrow to get the new technology, which was introduced in Terminals 2 and 4 in June 2005. The rollout was due to have been completed last year but, as exclusively revealed by silicon.com last month, this was pushed back because of teething problems with the system.

On the launch of the Terminal 1 rollout immigration minister Tony McNulty said in a statement: "With over 97 million people entering the UK in 2005, it is important that the UK remains at the forefront of the latest technology in immigration controls and the government's commitment to Project Iris demonstrates that."

And British Airways government affairs manager Jim Forster added in a statement: "Iris recognition will complement other BA initiatives such as check-in online and print your own boarding card from home which substantially reduces the amount of time our customers need to spend in queues at the airport."

The pilot for Iris began at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 4 in June 2005. The bomb attacks on London in July 2005 caused the enrolment facilities to be closed but these reopened on 3 January this year.

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