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The project involves the participation of the UK immigration service and the British Airport Authority (BAA), and will begin at the end of the year. The trials will be conducted using software from the US-based biometric technology specialist, EyeTicket.
As part of the trial a number of frequent British Airways and Virgin Atlantic passengers, who have been enrolled and cleared by the UK immigration service, will fly on the North Atlantic routes.
The EyeTicket JetStream Passenger Processing software stores photographs of each passenger's iris as a number on a database. When passing through UK passport control upon arriving at Heathrow, the passenger will look into a video camera. The passenger's identity will be verified by matching the video image of their iris against the number stored in the database.
A BAA spokeswoman said the trial aims to speed up and simplify the arrivals process. "It is purely going to be tested on the arrivals process. It is not going to be used for checking-in," she told CW360.com.