Amsterdam airport starts biometric security business

Schiphol Group NV, which operates the Amsterdam airport, is offering its self-service border control system with iris recognition to other airports and airlines, the company said Tuesday.

Schiphol is working with Joh. Enschedé BV, provider of the iris recognition technology, to hawk the system around the world because international interest since it was launched last October has been "enormous," said Marianne de Bie, a Schiphol Group spokeswoman.

Schiphol and Joh. Enschedé intend to start a joint venture, De Bie said.

No deals have been signed yet and Schiphol Group won't speculate how big the market for its airport security system could be, but initial contacts have been made with European and U.S. airports and airlines, De Bie said.

About 1,200 frequent travelers have been issued passes for the Dutch system, dubbed Privium. These people don't have to stand in line for customs, but go through a special passage where their iris geometry is compared with the iris information stored on the pass, after which an automatic gate opens. The user experience has been good, according to De Bie.

Iris recognition is a form of biometric identification. Other types include fingerprinting, palm recognition and facial scans. Iris recognition is seen as one of the most reliable types as the iris, the colored portion of the eye, never changes, according to Schiphol.

Schiphol Group developed Privium in close cooperation with the Dutch border police and the Dutch department of immigration and naturalization. Membership costs €99 (A$161) per year and is only open to nationals of countries in the European Economic Area.

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