Say “cheese” for border se­cu­rity

Popular Science - - TALES FROM THE FIELD - KELLY FORD, AIR­PORT OP­ER­A­TIONS CREW MEM­BER FOR JETBLUE

Some peo­ple might be a lit­tle sur­prised when they walk up to our gate at Bos­ton Lo­gan In­ter­na­tional Air­port and we don’t ask for a board­ing pass. JetBlue just rolled out a new fa­cial-recog­ni­tion de­vice for our Aruba-bound flights there. You just look at the thing, it takes your pic­ture, rec­og­nizes you from your pass­port photo, and you get to walk on board. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, fly­ers tend to think this process is pretty cool.

A few pas­sen­gers—mainly the ones who are con­stantly fly­ing down to their Caribbean time­shares—are al­ready used to it. And it’s not much dif­fer­ent than pos­ing for self­ies, which we all do all the time any­way. Lit­tle kids es­pe­cially love it—when they can ac­tu­ally use it. The cam­era is 5 feet off the ground, so they’re not al­ways tall enough. Their par­ents some­times hoist them up. When that doesn’t work, the kids are of­ten so dis­ap­pointed that we give them pi­lot-wing pins as a treat.

What’s kind of funny to me is that plenty of peo­ple re­ally care about how they look in this quick lit­tle snap­shot. They’ll say things like: “That’s a ter­ri­ble pic­ture of me. Can I take it over?“or “Oh god, I look like my mother.”

And of course there are peo­ple who make silly faces at the cam­era. They can’t help them­selves, es­pe­cially big groups of va­ca­tion­go­ers. Luck­ily, the soft­ware doesn’t care if you smile or goof off. It ac­tu­ally rec­og­nizes fea­tures. So it has no prob­lem ID’ing you no mat­ter your ex­pres­sion. But there is at least one thing it strug­gles with: eye­glasses. Those are trick­ier for the cam­era than funny faces, so it’s best to re­move them.

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