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Through Airport Security in the Blink of an Eye

New iris scanning technology cuts airport wait times from 49 minutes to 22 seconds
Through Airport Security in the Blink of an Eye
Illustration by Kelsey Dake

If there’s such a thing as frequent-flyer porn, it might be The Future Passenger Experience, a recently issued white paper from AOptix Technologies. The 10-page document presents an idyllic future in which a traveler shows up at an airport, tosses his bag on a conveyor belt, breezes through security, and boards a plane without ever dealing with another human or handling any documents. This is all accomplished with new face and iris scanners that can quickly identify a person—even a fidgety one—and automatically approve his progression through the normally onerous process of getting on an airplane.

AOptix, a 100-person outfit based in Silicon Valley, says it has the technology to pull off this vision of the future. The company has developed a scanner that can snap an iris from a few feet away in about a second. “It has to be easy enough for an 80-year-old Tibetan grandmother who has never flown before,” says Dean Senner, chief executive officer of AOptix. Senner is championing the idea that by 2020 the vast majority of people will be processed automatically at airports by matching iris scans against databases.