Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Faces are the new Oyster Cards

The company that gave London its Oyster card is working on a new technology that might allow us to use our faces as train tickets.

According to WIRED UK, San Diego-based Cubic Transportation System is developing a ticketing system relying on facial recognition to speed up payments and reduce queuing times.

In particular, Cubic’s new tech would do away with the typical rush hour congestions, when travellers cram near turnstiles frantically drawing out their Oyster cards. In Cubic’s ideal vision, passengers would just walk through gateless stations, as the facial recognition system automatically processes payments.

WIRED’s Victoria Turk explains that the company has already showcased a prototype of the technology in its London’s office.

The demoed payment system would still require some sort of validator, which would accept normal Oyster cards alongside bluetooth payments (via smartphone), face recognition and palm vein infrared scans. (The veins in the palm of our hands form a crisscross pattern which is unique for each person.)

Each traveller would have previously decided what technology or biometric feature to associate with their bank account, so that the system would automatically charge them on spotting their faces or scanning their veins.

Fare-evading would be discouraged by light or sound signals, although it is not clear how effective that would be in preventing people from free-riding by hiding their faces or simply declining to scan their palms as they walk through the no-turnstile station.

Cubic is aiming at installing one of its gateless systems in one UK station by the end of 2017. Still, it underlined that its facial recognition tech is not sufficiently up to snuff to be deployed just yet— not to mention the predictable , and understandable, backlash from people who fret about the privacy implications of giving up their biometric data.

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