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Plans to replace travel cards – with your face

It’s a scenario that every commuter in a rush to catch the 7:05 service to the city fears most – realising you’ve forgotten your travel card right as you get to the turnstile to tap on.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than judgemental looks from your fellow travellers, still bleary-eyed from their caffeine-fuelled wakeup as they scramble to get to the platform before the doors of the train shut.

Even worse is the feeling of dread when you realise you’re going to miss your train while you’re busy backtracking to get another ticket.

Singapore Technologies Electronics is a company that knows that feeling all too well. In fact, they know it so well they’re looking to spare you from ever feeling it again.

Instead of tapping on with a regular travel card, or similar apparatus, STE have developed a facial recognition system which scans one’s face and matches it to data records as they use public transport.

Capable of scanning one face a second, or 60 per minute, STE’s system is much faster than the current 40 scans a minute physical tap-ons produce. The system also eliminates problems such as commuters forgetting to tap off, or incorrect transfer charges.

In order to use the Advance Fare Gate system, commuters sign up at a booth at a self-help terminal. Facial photographs will be taken and composited to a database in order to help with recognition and charging. Fares will be charged via a post-paid method, similar to some mobile phone plans, linked to a credit card or bank account.

For those who choose not to use facial recognition systems due to privacy or personal concerns, the Advance Fare Gate is also compatible with radio frequency identification. Removing the need to physically tap a card onto the terminal, commuters may instead carry an RFID system in their bag or on their person, and walk through freely.

Purportedly already operational and ready for implementation, numerous clients, both local to Singapore and overseas, have reportedly inquired about purchasing the AFG system, although STE declined to name any.

About the author

Karl is the physical embodiment of an alternate universe where Kurt Cobain played for Hanson, instead of Nirvana. When he’s not furiously bashing a keyboard and howling in pain, he can probably be found mumbling into a microphone somewhere, or up in the gym working on his fitness (with Fergie as his witness)

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