According to The Asahi Shimbun, no more swiping an IC card or rummaging for a ticket. Catching a train will be as easy as showing your face. At least that's the plan.
Osaka Metro Co. has started a trial run of a face-recognition system with the aim of allowing passengers to pass through the wicket more efficiently.
Under the test that started in Dec 2019, dedicated equipment was set up at four stations in the city so that images of passengers registered in advance can be compared with actual faces at wickets.
The trial covers only employees of the railway operator and will continue through September. Osaka Metro is looking to introduce the system at all its stations by fiscal 2024 after addressing problems that emerge in the trial.
It is the first verification test by a railway operator of a facial authentication technology in Japan, according to Osaka Metro representatives.
"We'll emphasize as an advantage the fact that passengers with large luggage will be able to pass gates simply by showing their faces instead of looking for tickets," said Takahiro Ide, a senior Osaka Metro official.
In a demonstration on Dec. 9 at Dome-mae Chiyozaki Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line, a camera behind a ticket gate identified an employee’s eyes, nose, face contours and other characteristics within several seconds of the official entering the gate.
As the analyzed facial attributes were confirmed as the same as those in the preregistered image, the message “OK” was shown on the monitor and the gate was opened.
According to Osaka Metro, some challenges remain, such as correctly identifying a face covered from the nose down with a face mask. Such issues are expected to be fixed for smoother recognition during the experiment period.
The face authentication technology has been spreading for airport entry and departure processes, cashless payments and other purposes.
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