Today, the future of secure travel is widely considered to be intertwined with significant strides made in biometric technology. The relationship between trusted digital ID and the travel industry only looks to strengthen over the next decades.

The outcome of a 9-month research project, undertaken in 2021, Frontex have now released a study which provides foresight into how biometric technology will continue to evolve for travel and permeate through every aspect of a passenger’s travel experience.

The rigorous research covers 3D face recognition, infrared face recognition and contactless ridge recognition as well as iris biometrics in the NIR spectrum and visible spectrum for the future implementation in border check systems by integrated border management.

Frontex’s findings is portioned into three sections of research, defining the capability needs in border control and in support of Member States in the attainment of these capabilities.

In the Taxonomy, the study identifies accessible market-based technologies and their applications for the travel and aviation sectors.

In the primitive stages of the Technology Foresight process, Frontex’s needs were identified against the key functions and characteristics of the technologies which indicated four essential criteria for reference in later phases of the project.

The criteria included:

• Low vulnerability to adversary attacks

• Seamlessness

• Applicability within pandemic-specific restrictions

• Compliance with fundamental EU values and regulations

Rated in the security analysis, 20 technology clusters were gradually narrowed down to five key biometric technological clusters which were selected for deeper analysis.

In the Deep Analysis phase of the project, roadmapping was used to envision the rate of acceleration and short, medium and long-term paths in the development and evolution of biometric technologies.

A table in the report (pictured below) shows the impact of four hypothetical scenerios, indicative of the travel sector under varying levels of pressure. Compared to roadmap projections laid out in the report, the table shows that the rate of development in 3D face recognition is much slower in scenarios where travel is under the most strain.

Describing a scenario with decreased travel and no updates in transport, the results also suggest that Iris recognition in the visible spectrum is considerably behind in being developed compared with the roadmap projections addressed in the report.

In contrast, iris recognition in the NIR spectrum and contactless friction ridge recognition is shown to be advancing at a faster pace than expected in low and high-pressure scenarios in travel.