November 16, 2023
SINGAPORE – Singapore is developing a new gantry that will allow travellers to clear immigration by simply walking through.
Currently, travellers passing through Singapore’s borders have to scan their passports, walk through a barrier, and wait again behind another barrier as their biometrics are scanned before they are allowed through. The process takes about two minutes per traveller.
But this may be set to change in the future, with the development of a gantry without any barriers that will see travellers clear immigration in under 10 seconds as they walk past at a brisk pace without stopping.
Dubbed the Next-Generation Clearance Concept, the system includes the barrier-free gantry and a self-enrolment kiosk that will allow people to register their biometrics by themselves.
The system is being developed by the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), which has put a prototype on display in France at Milipol Paris 2023, which is being held from Nov 14 to 17.
The event is one of the largest homeland security exhibitions in the world and features a Singapore Pavilion and a delegation of scientists and engineers from HTX.
The event was attended by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.
Mr Melvin Low, deputy director for biometrics at HTX’s Biometrics and Profiling Centre of Expertise, said development on the Next-Generation Clearance Concept began about two years ago, with the team wanting to further innovate biometrics clearance.
He said: “We want to stay ahead of the curve as a transformation agent. We want to continuously push tech frontiers and break limits through further innovations.
“With new technologies emerging all the time from a fast evolving landscape, we can’t just wait for things to happen. We need to be proactive.”
The barrier-free gantry uses numerous sensors and cameras that can conduct facial and iris recognition at speed, but Mr Low said they are looking to also implement the detection of gait biometrics that will measure the way a person walks.
Dr Chua Jeun Kee, the lead engineer, said the aim is to create a seamless user experience.
He said: “We aspire to create a future where biometrics clearance will be a seamless walk-through experience for users (who clear) just by walking past and glancing at the camera.”
Dr Chua is also working on the development of the self-enrolment kiosk that will allow people to register their biometrics without the help of an officer.
The system will scan and capture a person’s facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics, with the entire enrolment process taking less than five minutes a person if their scans are all legitimate.
Dr Chua said the system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to validate the biometrics and ensure its quality. “There are no known off-the-shelf products that can do something like this, so we explored the power of AI to do finger detection and quality checks.
“For example, when the system asks you to use your right thumb and you use another finger instead, it is able to detect this and reject the print.”
Separately, on the sidelines of the event, HTX signed a master agreement under a Strategic Partnership for Innovation with multinational technology company Idemia on Nov 15.
Under the agreement, HTX and Idemia will collaborate on research and development in biometrics and forensics technologies.
HTX chief executive Chan Tsan said: “Fostering innovative technology is critical to keeping Singapore safe and secure. This partnership will provide opportunities for HTX and Idemia’s engineers and scientists to work together to develop cutting-edge homeland security solutions. I look forward to the outcomes that this partnership will bring in the near future.”