The end of the immigration officer ... I don't think so
Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 07:43AM
[Your Name Here]

We've just come back from a quick skiing trip to Austria, lovely place, charming people and the buses really do run on time. Anyway, on the way back though Heathrow I thought I try out my new passports' automated entry to UK features. Hmm not exactly an unmitigated success are they? The idea is reasonable enough, slide your chipped passport onto a reader, stand in front of a camera and the computer decides if it really is you by checking various metrics such as the gaps between your eyes, the length of your nose and so forth. If they match the details on the passport you're in - simple yes...erm no, not really. The problem is that it's so slow. I stood and counted a good half dozen people go through the system, EVERYONE had problems getting the reader to read their passport and the officer next the machine was beetling up and down explaining how to use the machines, then it was SO SLOOOOOW, at recognition which (excuse me) is the thing it has to do.... so the upshot was it takes 20 seconds to go through an automated reader which is 4 times longer than it takes to go through a human. So you'd need 4 times as many readers to process the same length of queue and the last time I looked airports are kinda crowded already, all in all a bit of a failure. I reckon those immigration officers are safe for a while yet.


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