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How Innovation In Biometrics Is Being Used In Air Travel

When we think of biometrics in air travel we tend to think of e-passports, but this is just one use for the technology. Here we look more specifically at air travel

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

From the depths of our coronavirus COVID-19 isolation it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever jet off on holidays or business trips again. Of course, once this unsettling time has passed our airports will be busy once again, and with around 4.5 billion people around the world flying each year, security has never been a bigger priority.

When we think of biometrics we tend to think of e-passports, but this is just one use for the technology. Serious threats from cybercrime and terrorism are ever present, which alongside updates in international regulations means new technologies are regularly being implemented.

Although many applications make use of biometric technology, here we look more specifically at air travel:

What is biometric technology?

Biometric technology identifies and measures a person’s unique physical and behavioural characteristics in order to accurately identify them. It’s often used for control and security, as well as for tracking anyone who is under surveillance.

There are a large number of benefits to the use of biometric technology, an important one being that it’s hard to steal or fake. It also doesn’t change over a person’s life span, plus it’s non-transferrable, easy to use and takes up less storage.

Benefits of biometric technology for air travel

There’s huge scope for biometrics in air travel. These are some of the key ones in more detail:

Preventing document fraud

Biometrics are crucial in helping authorities to spot individuals trying to travel on a document that was issued to someone else (even though the document itself is genuine). Many of us look like our siblings or other family members, or even resemble a person we’re not related to. Lookalike fraud is a particularly common type of document fraud at airports, and it’s not always easy for airline personnel to visually pick up on it. When biometric technology is used both at the start and end of their journey, any passengers who are attempting to leave a country with a different ID document from the one they gained entry with, can be identified in seconds. This is also true for identifying anyone who has overstayed their visa.

Automating verification processes

Verifying traveller identity using the automated processes that biometric technology brings can offer massive advantages, both in terms of security and facilitation. In the last few years, border forces have begun deploying automated border control (ABC) gates to help passenger move through faster so reducing queuing time. The biometric used is facial recognition, allowing these ABC gates to provide a faster, more seamless (less intrusive) experience in comparison to fingerprint scanning.

Improving the customer experience in airports generally

Digging out your passport and boarding pass repeatedly is a real pain. Whether it’s to buy a drink in the airport shop, getting on the plane or to move through immigration on the other side, you can guarantee both passport and boarding pass will be right at the bottom of your bag when you need them. However, biometrics mean that these documents could eventually be replaced by eye or body scanners, making the journey from A to B far less fiddly. Done right, and passengers won’t even notice the cameras at bag drop, security and elsewhere - they’ll simply breeze through.

Where future innovation could be focused

There are some disadvantages to biometrics which research and development can play a vital role in solving going forward. The first one is that getting a new biometric system up and running can be pricey. Essential maintenance and updates to the system will also be required to keep it functioning and accurate.

Hacking may also be a problem, not to mention the fact that there’s still room for genuine technical error (false accepts/rejects). Issues can also arise if the user has sustained an injury, as a biometric authentication system may then not work. This could be for instance if they have cut their hand, meaning a fingerprint scanner can’t identify them.

Has your company undergone any innovative R&D projects recently?

It could well qualify for tax credits courtesy of the Revenue.

Plus - the scheme is open to any company in any sector and of any size. So even if you don’t work in the field of biometrics, or in the aviation industry, you can still make a claim.

R&D Tax Credits scheme in brief

For nearly two decades, the Irish government has aimed to encourage business growth and innovation. Growing businesses tend to be healthy businesses, and this is vital to the wider economy.

With this in mind, it offers R&D Tax Credits as a tax incentive to any Irish companies that have endeavoured to broaden scientific or technological knowledge in their field. This could be through the creation of a new product, service or process, or through the appreciable improvement of an existing one. It doesn’t even matter if the project ultimately failed; the key thing is that risks were taken, and costs were incurred, in the carrying out of research and development work.

How much can be claimed?

This is the good bit - it’s a particularly generous scheme. The credit offers up to 25% of an organisation’s R&D expenditure as a Corporation Tax credit, or as cash for businesses that have made a loss. This 25% credit is given in addition to the 12.5% Corporation Tax deduction at the standard rate.

The credit is generally available for R&D projects across a vast range of sectors, including engineering, health and medicine, pharmaceuticals, software development, food and beverage production, agriculture and horticulture and financial services - and of course, aviation.

Discover more on our R&D Tax Credits page.

Interested? Get in touch with the R&D tax experts at Myriad Associates today

We have almost 20 years’ experience in delivering outstanding tax advice regarding R&D. Thanks to our specialist team of R&D accountants and tax advisors, we can make sure you don’t fall foul of the many pitfalls of claiming. We can also safeguard you against any errors in your application which would leave you vulnerable to Revenue scrutiny, and our 100% success rate means you know you’re guaranteed the money you’re owed.

Can your business afford to miss out on potentially thousands of euros?

Call us now on +353 1 566 2001 or fill out our contact form so a member of the team can call you back.

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