New software that can read your face could replace train tickets

nd of the line for train tickets? Facial recognition software that identifies passengers without stopping them at barriers could be rolled out in the UK by 2020 Cameras use infrared lights to capture the shape and texture of the face Passengers present their face rather than having to use the card and pin The amazing technology could start replacing ticket gates by 2020 The technology is being developed by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory 'You could only fool it if you could carry a 3D representation of your head', Dr Melvyn Smith, Director of the Centre for Machine Vision told MailOnline Facial recognition technology could mean that queuing to buy a train ticket and waiting to go through the barriers may be a thing of the past. The cameras use high speed infrared lights to capture the shape and texture of the face in detail never seen before - even spotting small blemishes and wrinkles. Researchers say they could identify passengers as they walk onto the platform and the time-saving technology could be rolled out in the UK by 2020. The project, which is being developed by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, is funded by the Railway Safety and Standards Board and working in collaboration with the Cubic Transportation Systems. 'You can imagine that, if you can get rid of the gate lines in a place like Victoria station, there's a massive potential for increasing throughput', Lyndon Smith from Bristol Robotics Laboratory told BBC Click. 'So we ran an interesting project for [Cubic], which they're installing at their laboratory in Salfords [in Surrey] and the aim is to move it onto the underground', he said. 'You can imagine, for example, paying just by means of presenting your face to a system rather than having to use the card and pin', he said. Dr Smith said they system could be in place for rail passengers across the UK from 2020. Facial recognition identifies people by analysing the shape of a person’s face. Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points which distinguishes one from another. The cameras measure the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline. These details are being picked up by cameras that use high speed infrared lights which can also sense shape in space. This means they cannot be fooled by photos of someone. The technology would initially be available in 'fast-track' lanes for passengers who had had their faces scanned in a registration process. 'Everybody's face is unique in three dimensions actually. Even identical twins are unique', Dr Smith said. The scanning capabilities are so advanced it can tell the difference between a photo of someone's face and their face in the flesh. '3D imaging can distinguish features like moles and pores which are different on identical twins', Dr Melvyn Smith, Director of the Centre for Machine Vision told MailOnline. 'With a 2D imaging system you could use a picture but to avoid that the 3D information finds shape in space', he said. 'You could only fool it if you could carry a 3D representation of your head', he added. Researchers say they are currently getting 95 per cent accuracy from the cameras - which they hope will increase in the coming years. 'I think the technology is pretty much ready to go. However, if you do away with the barriers there are other issues like people in wheelchairs or children who are at different levels and those are issues we haven't solved yet', he said. 'It's only had limited testing so far - if sunlight is able to come through the roof that could affect how the system images the face and there are lots of real world situations that could affect how it works', Dr Melvyn Smith said. 'While many passengers may be sceptical about using their face as a means of financing future travel, the idea in its simplest form will already be familiar to those who use e-passports, and the technology that allows us to go hands-free', said Justin Vaughan-Brown, Director of Technology Strategy for EMEA at AppDynamics. 'The future of train ticket validation may lie in facial recognition, but the potential of the technology will only be realised if consumers receive a flawless experience', he said. 'With the current tap-and-go policy so familiar to the majority of commuters, facial recognition must offer something more than what's already on offer'.

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