Dubai Wants to Replace Airport Security With Face-Scanning Fish

This may be your new airport security | © Ruth Hartnup/Flickr
This may be your new airport security | © Ruth Hartnup/Flickr
Photo of Peter Ward
Tech Editor13 October 2017

Dubai, never a city to shy away from outlandish ideas, wants to replace the stress and hassle of airport security lines with a virtual aquarium capable of scanning your face.

We all hate going through security at the airport. There’s the family in front of you who can’t get all their children’s shoes off, the businessman behind you looking for any opportunity to jump ahead of you, and the elderly couple aimlessly wandering around, full of metal and four hours early to their flight.

And when you land you reach the dreaded immigration queue—a two-hour wait with an unfriendly face waiting for you at the end.

Fortunately, technology has been introduced to make this process a little easier. We now have e-gates and fast passes that can skip much of the turmoil, and get us on our flights or out of the airport much more efficiently. But Dubai plans to take this to another level.

Imagine wandering through a virtual aquarium tunnel, admiring the digital fish, and when you emerge the other side your face has been scanned, your identity verified, and you’re free to leave the airport or board your plane. No awkward conversations, no waiting in line, just a spot of fish gazing and you’re done.

The concept was first reported on by Dubai newspaper The National. According to the publication, approximately 80 cameras will be hidden among the fish, and the tunnel can also be set to show different environments or used to show advertisements.

“The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveler but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travelers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his [or] her face print,” said Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, deputy director general of Dubai Residency and Foreign Affairs. “The virtual images are of very high quality and gives a simulation of a real-life aquarium.”

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