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Dubai to replace passport control with biometric border check

System developed by UK startup which creates a digital passport for each individual will be used at Dubai’s main airport

The Dubai government is working with a startup company to introduce biometric border checks that could end the need for physical passports.

The system, developed by UK-based ObjectTech, will be used at Dubai’s main airport.

Arriving passengers will enter a short tunnel when leaving aircraft. While in the tunnel, a 3D scan of their faces will take place and they will be instantly checked into the country. LIDAR technology will enable the system to recognise passengers quickly without them even needing to stop walking.

The technology is a product of the Dubai government’s Dubai Future Accelerator tech startup initiative, which ObjectTech joined in January.

ObjectTech has been working with Dubai’s immigration department to apply its technology.

The system creates a digital passport for each individual which contains the data currently stored in chips on existing e-passports, including biometric data such as fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition.

It uses blockchain technology to ensure sensitive data can only be seen by the digital passport holder and the relevant authorities. “It is physically impossible even for us to access it,” said ObjectTech.

The biometric border system’s trustworthy identity records mean it could have many other uses. For example, a bank account could be opened instantly by taking data from a passport.

“This is an identity system that is fit for the digital age,” said Paul Ferris, CEO at ObjectTech. “Not only will it make international travel quicker and safer, but it also gives people back control of their personal digital data, which over the last decade is something that has increasingly become the property of third parties.

“Dubai is really committed to improving the lives of its citizens and visitors through technology and we are very excited to be a part of making that a reality.”

The technology means there will no longer be a need for travellers to stop at passport control. It will also reduce the potential for identity fraud, as well as the number of lost passports.

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