Face-scanning Tube station ticketing developing (Wired)

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The company behind the Oyster card is working on a face-scanning ticketing system. Cubic Transportation Systems, the US company behind London’s Oyster card technology, is working on new ticketing systems that use facial recognition, palm vein scanning and object tracking in a bid to cut down queues.

One of the problems Cubic is trying to solve is the bottleneck that occurs at ticket gates when everyone rushes to dig out their ticket or pass. To avoid this crush, Cubic suggests removing the gates completely. Instead, its prototype system uses an object tracking system to track passengers as they walk through.

The company has demonstrated a prototype of its “FasTrak” gateless gate system at its London-based innovation centre. Here’s how it works. First, the traveller presents their ticket at a next-generation validator. As with existing machines, this validator accepts Oyster cards and contactless cards, but it also works with some alternative payment methods: Bluetooth LTE (which could identify passengers by their phone as they pass through, without them needing to hold it on the scanner), palm vein scan and facial recognition.

The palm vein scanner uses an infrared sensor to capture the pattern of blood vessels in your hand. At the moment, Cubic envisages that a rider would go to a station to register their palm print and link it to their payment account. Then, when they put their hand on the scanner before a journey, the scanner will recognise their palm and charge their account.

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Written by Long Branch Mike