Osaka Metro launches facial recognition tech
12 December 2019 16:26 GMT

Western Japanese city Osaka has unveiled an automatic face recognition ticket gate at its Metro to allow passengers to pass without carrying tickets or commuter passes at a station.

The company began a demonstration experiment involving roughly 1,200 employees on Dec. 10 and aims to introduce the new system at all 133 stations, including subway stations in Osaka Prefecture, by fiscal 2024 -- in time for the world expo Osaka is hosting in 2025.

According to Osaka Metro, passengers' faces are photographed with cameras equipped at stations when they pass through ticket gates and the images are transmitted to servers at the company's headquarters. The passengers' faces are then checked against their head shots preregistered with the subway operator. If the data matches, the ticket gates are opened for passengers to pass through.

“Elderly people and people with a stroller, for example, will be able to go through the gate without having to put anything down,” an official of the company said to the Japan Times. “We want to improve the station environment by introducing new technologies.”

The demonstration experiment is set to continue until Sept. 30, 2020. Up to two face authentication ticket gates will be tested at Dome-mae Chiyozaki Station as well as at Daikokucho, Dobutsuen-mae and Morinomiya stations, respectively.

By using machines produced by different manufacturers, the company will compare and verify their speeds and accuracy to improve the system. While passengers wearing masks may not be recognized by the current device, the system is expected to be convenient for those using wheelchairs and baby buggies.

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