No ticket, no problem: Facial recognition could replace Oyster cards

In the future when you travel on the London Underground there may be no need for Oyster cards, or even ticket barriers – and your face may act as your pass to travel.

Cubic Transportation Systems, which designed the technology behind the Oyster card, is working on a futuristic new way to pay for travel.

Forget retro Oyster cards – the new system would mean you pay by facial recognition, palm vein patterns, or your phone, which you won’t even need to take out of your pocket.

Open corridors replace barriers in this concept station
This is how new corridors, replacing ticket barriers, might look (Maynard)

The prototype system still takes Oyster and contactless payments, but can also detect low energy Bluetooth signals from your phone as you pass through.

Otherwise, you can pay using your palm. Vein scanners can detect the specific pattern under your skin so, unlike fingerprints, they won’t be affected by grubby hands.

Travellers would register their faces or palm patterns at stations beforehand, and these would be recognised by cameras and infrared sensors as they head to the platform.

Concept art for the futuristic new ticketing system (Maynard)
Concept art for the futuristic new ticketing system (Maynard)

Instead of individual ticket barriers, people would be tracked through corridors, checking they’ve validated their face or palm ticket.

Those who hadn’t paid would be subject to some kind of warning and the company is experimenting with how to put off fare dodgers, although it says this trial is for stations without barriers.

Even if fare evaders weren’t put off by flashing lights or alarm bells, stations would know to direct staff to where skipping payment was prevalent.

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