Osaka Metro launches face recognition ticketing pilot

Osaka Metro Co. unveiled an automatic face recognition ticket gate designed to allow passengers to pass without carrying tickets or commuter passes at a station in this western Japan city on Dec. 9.

The subway operator aims to introduce the gates at all of its train stations by fiscal 2024, ahead of the 2025 World Expo in the city of Osaka.

Osaka Metro face recognition

The test involves around 1,200 Osaka Metro employees. According to the rapid transit company, this will be the first such experiment by a Japanese railway operator.

Each station will have facial recognition gates developed by four different firms to compare their functionality.

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 headshots preregistered with the subway operator. If the data matches, the ticket gates are opened for passengers to pass through.

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.

On Monday, a gate installed at Dome-mae Chiyozaki Station was shown to reporters. When an Osaka Metro employee whose facial data has been registered in advance tried to go through the gate, a camera set up at the facility checked the worker’s face against the data before the gate opened to let the person 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. “We want to improve the station environment by introducing new technologies.”

The gates were developed by Omron Social Solutions Co., Takamisawa Cybernetics Co., Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corp. and Nippon Signal Co.

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