Facial Recognition Is Making Its Way to Cruise Ships


San Francisco is the first US city to ban facial recognition for police and government agencies. But, facial recognition still has a lot of potential at the cruise operator Royal Caribbean, says an article published in Quartz.

‘Security selfie’ at Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has initiated facial recognition and other technologies to streamline its boarding process. Jay Schneider, the company’s digital SPV said that the typical wait time can be reduced if the passenger opts for facial recognition by uploading a ‘security selfie’. This is time saving when compared to boarding with a mobile boarding pass. A wait time of 90 minutes was there before these technologies were added.

Schneider says that the passengers should have a welcoming experience. He added that the company wants to turn facial recognition “not into a stop and frisk moment, but into a way to welcome you on vacation”.

No more extended ‘wait time in lines’

As facial recognition makes the passengers move through the line faster, the rest of the line will also benefited. This makes sure that even the typical 90-minute wait for the normal boarders will be more like 20 minutes.

Schneider says, Royal Caribbean deletes all the security selfies at the end of each trip thereby, data storage is not permanent.

Crew gets facial recognition

The crew members on board Royal Caribbean have  also got their mobile boarding passes. This technology  saves the company 50,000 crew hours each year, says Schneider.

A single trip could accommodate 6000 passengers and 2500 crew members in the Royal Caribbean’s largest ship.

Facial recognition – facet of future

On the technological front, facial recognition is already in use by Facebook and Google for tagging photos and organizing them. Facial recognition can be used to unlock newer iPhone models, and this feature has been used by the police officials to check for fraud on state identification, for years now.

In short, facial recognition offers great advantage in the service of customer convenience.

Facial recognition in Tokyo and China

In the case of Royal Caribbean, vacationers and the management want to board the cruise ship faster. The data provided by the customer is used only for  limited-time, and in turn offers convenience.

Disney has also been researching facial recognition (pdf), and made it available at Disneyland Tokyo in 2017. In China, companies like Alibaba use facial recognition to normalize the idea of using it to pay for things.

Facial recognition for convenience

Businesses are implementing facial recognition for convenience rather than entirely new experiences.

Facial recognition makes the boarding in ship faster. These kinds of low-stakes interactions show two kinds of return for technology companies, making life easier for their customers while

  1. normalizing facial recognition and
  2. the collection of real-world data.

With every improvement in any technology, there comes a drawback with it. In the current Internet scenario, there’s always the feeling of ‘being watched’.

Royal Caribbean claims it deletes the customer data after each trip, but no US policy mandates that companies adopt that stance. These photos could be possibly used for less benign operations on the ship, like identifying people in security footage. As a solution to this, Royal Caribbean is also working with US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to test its facial recognition program for re-entry to the US.

CBP streamlines face recognition

According to Schneider, the CBP continues to explore facial recognition extensively. The reason behind this is that it streamlines the process of getting off of a ship, or eventually off of an airplane.

They do it for security reasons and a faster exit is assured from a passenger’s perspective.

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Source: Quartz



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