Automated immigration gates based on facial recognition technology began a one-month trial at Haneda and Narita airports on Aug. 4.
The automated gates are being tested by the Immigration Bureau of Japan with an eye to improving the efficiency of immigration procedures ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer and Paralympic Games. The automated gates will be available for departing travelers to use almost every day until Sept. 5.
The machines verify a traveler's identity by comparing the headshot image saved on the IC chip embedded in the person's passport with a photo taken at the gate. The immigration bureau held a similar trial in 2012, but the system failed to properly identify travelers 17 percent of the time, and the project was shelved. The bureau was prompted to return to the concept by advances in facial recognition technology and the International Olympic Committee decision last year to award Tokyo the 2020 Games.
On the first day of the trial at Narita International Airport's Terminal 2, Japanese travelers heading overseas volunteered to try out the new system, allowing themselves to be photographed as they walked and in close-up.