NEC Corp. gave a demonstration of its facial recognition system at its headquarters in Tokyo on Friday that it says will help passengers board planes faster without having to present passports or boarding passes.

Narita will be the first airport in the country to deploy the system, called OneID, ahead of an expected spike in foreign arrivals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the media presentation, NEC showed how the system streamlined the boarding procedure. First, at the self check-in machine, passenger consent was obtained, then their passport was scanned and a barcode on their smartphone screen provided the flight details. A camera was used to capture their facial image during the process. The data was then linked together and stored in an authentication system.

Those who wish to use the conventional procedure will still be able to choose to do so, according to NEC.

The system also allows passengers to drop off their baggage at an automated check-in terminal equipped with a facial recognition camera, by comparing their face with the data held on record. Passengers can enter the area for safety inspections and walk through the boarding gates without needing to stop for a passport or boarding pass to be checked. Narita’s immigration control, however, will maintain its existing procedures.

The airport’s operator, Narita International Airport Corp., views enhancing operational efficiency as one of its primary challenges, said Senior Vice President Tatsuya Hamada.

A surge in the number of foreign visitors to Japan is exacerbating congestion at Narita terminals, contributing to lower customer satisfaction levels and flight delays. Higher efficiency is also crucial to meeting the tight flight schedules of low-cost carriers.

NEC’s OneID can, Hamada said, boost the on-time performance of flights, reduce passenger stress and save on labor “while retaining or even raising the level of security at the airport” due to the system’s sophisticated identity verification technology.

The speed of the entire process could be 50 percent to 100 percent faster, according to the company.

The biometric screening system, which will cover Japanese and non-Japanese passengers, will be introduced in spring 2020 for flights operated by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

The government is aiming to increase the number of foreign visitors per year to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, from a record-high of 31.19 million in 2018.

Yutaka Ukegawa, senior vice president at NEC, said the company intends to expand the use of its facial recognition technology to operations such as commuter pass purchases, and shopping at duty-free shops with the aim of eliminating the onerous tax exemption procedures

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