29 Sep'17

Our face and palms to be the new Oyster card


Cubic, the company behind London Oyster card, are developing the technology for people’s faces and palms to be the equivalent of their ticket. The advanced ticketing technology will align with the plan for train and tube stations being a gateless system. See the press release here.


The design and manufacture of Cubic’s new ticketing system is an attempt to cut down queues with the projection that ’the number of journeys for passenger rail is likely to double over the next 30 years.’


Wired reports on the demonstration of the ticketing system at a London innovation centre. The demonstration showed how the process would be done in real-time: an individual first registers their ticket at a validation machine, whether this be an Oyster card, their palm or their face.


If an individual decides to use their palm to register, then they would scan their palm using an infrared sensor. Their palm scan will then link to their payment account. This would be the same for the facial recognition software.


The object tracking system would mean stations would be gateless, tracking individuals as they walk through the corridor. In the demonstration, lights would turn green when a person has paid, and turns red if they haven’t. Cubic are also testing other modes of signalling paid and unpaid fares like noises and vibrations.


Here is a video of Cubic’s ticketing system:

Gateless Gatelines from Cubic Transportation Systems on Vimeo


There is the question of how this system would stop those that have not paid their travel fare. Wired quotes Dave Roast, Strategy Manager, saying the system can remind people to pay and provide information of when and where a high frequency of people who are not paying their fares. This information can then be used to employ extra staff at these areas.


Concern with the company holding bio-metric data is another difficulty that will have to be overcome before this system is officially launched.


Roast states, ‘if you didn’t want to use your face and only wanted to travel with your smart cards, that’s up to you.’


The company aims to have this gateless system up and running within a year. Facial recognition software will come later as the technology is not accurate enough yet.