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Australian airports testing facial recognition technology to replace physical passport checks

Malcolm Farr and Toni Hetherington, February 22, 2018 7:15AM The Daily Telegraph

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Facial recognition technology is being tested at Australian airports and may soon replace passport checks. media_cameraFacial recognition technology is being tested at Australian airports and may soon replace passport checks.


Reading level: orange

Your face could soon be your passport if you want to travel overseas.

Technology that recognises the faces of approved passengers — rather than using physical passport checks — has been successfully trialled at Canberra Airport.

And now it’s been announced that biometric* face scans will start at our largest airport in Sydney in May.

SmartGate technology already uses facial recognition technology. media_cameraSmartGate technology already uses facial recognition technology.

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton yesterday said passport-free travel was very close.

He said he wants to see the day travellers can go from their airplane seat to outside the airport without having to show any physical documents.

“I want (overseas visitors) to walk seamlessly* … off the A380 and — in time, and we’re not far off this — with facial* recognition on the move, peoples’ passports will stay in their pocket,” Mr Dutton told the National Press Club.

“They will walk from the plane out to the kerb-side and depart the airport.”

Carrying a physical passport may not be necessary soon. media_cameraCarrying a physical passport may not be necessary soon.

Australia entered a three-year $22.5 million contract with Vision-Box Australia to deliver the world leading contactless process last year.

Already, Mr Dutton said the Canberra airport trial had shown a 90 per cent success rate.

“Australia is committed to being a world leader in the use of biometrics at our border,” Mr Dutton said.

At Sydney airport by the end of the year, Qantas passengers who agree to take part in the trial will pass through six steps — check in, bag drop, border processing, security screening, airport lounge and the boarding gate — after showing their passport only once for verification.

Using facial-recognition technology at electronic gates in recent years has dropped the average amount of time people using it spend passing through Customs* from about four minutes to 23 seconds.


biometrics: the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics

seamlessly: smoothly and without interruption

facial: of or affecting the face

Customs: place where officials check incoming goods, travellers, or luggage



1. Airport changes

Describe the change that is taking place in Australia’s airports.

List all of the benefits that this change will bring.

Time: allow 15 minutes.

Curriculum Links: English.

Extension: In the story you have read about biometrics. Do you know what this is? Find out. then choose another example of biometrics that is being used. Find out more about this and create a fact sheet about it. The purpose of your fact sheet is to help other students understand the most important things about this example of biometrics and why it is important.

Time: allow 45 minutes.

Curriculum Links: Science

2. Scanners

In the story, you have read that the scanners have a 90 per cent success rate. What do you think might be some of the problems that might stop this technology from working properly? Write down as many as you can. Then, for each problem, write down something that could be done to fix it.

Time: allow 5 minutes.

Curriculum Links: Critical and Creative Thinking,

Extension: What do you think the facial recognition scanner would look like and how would it work? Create a design for the machine that would be used at the airport. Don’t forget to include labels that show the different parts and explain how they work.

Time: allow 30 minutes.

Curriculum Links: Design and Technologies


The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?


Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

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