INTRODUCTION TO PASSPORT READERS
It is 99,99% that a passport reader device has already scanned your passport, most probably at an airport. These scanners are used for enhancing security at border control, law enforcement and other governmental applications. Read below to get familiar with the passport reading technology.
How do passport readers work?
A passport scanner is actually a camera – a purpose-built imaging device that takes photos of the presented identity documents. The difference between a regular camera and a passport scanner is the following: a passport scanner uses special illuminations when capturing the document; in addition to visible white, it includes infrared and ultraviolet light sources as well. The images taken under these illuminations are used as inputs for specific image processing tasks: mainly for data reading and document verification.
The key functions of passport readers
During the passport reading process, the OCR software analyze the scanned images. First, it identifies the document type, then digitalizes the characters. It results in segmented personal and document data, such as name, date of birth, nationality, document number, expiry data and more. All these data are gathered within 1-2 seconds only.
The images, scanned under various illuminations go through a deep software analysis to find discrepancies compared to reference images of genuine identity documents. Also, these systems are capable of cross-checking visual and digital data, for example comparing the printed photo and the digital photo that is stored in the RFID chip.
Types of data passport readers capture
Passport scanners read printed data by default, but many types are capable of reading digital (chip) data as well:
Amongst printed data, there are MRZ (Machine Readable Zone), VIZ (Visual Inspection Zone), face portrait and barcodes, too.
Those passports that hold an electronic chip, are often referred to as e-passports. E-passport reader devices establish a secure connection between the reader module and the passport, performing various protocols according to the ICAO 9303 standard.
RFID chips are used mostly for storing biometric data in a secure way: such as face photograph or fingerprints.
Typical applications of passport readers
Land borders, sea borders and airports use passport reader devices from the 1990s. Since then, the technology evolved a lot – now it is a must for any border control system to aid human expertise with smart technology. These devices have to work steadily in 724 hours constant operation.
Automated Border Control
More and more border control systems are transformed to Automated Border Control – shortly ABC – which performs the passport checking and identity verification automatically, without human interaction. This process is implemented by electronic gates – shortly e-gates – this way speeding up the border control procedure.
Passport readers are used to detect forgeries and verify the identity in various law enforcement applications, mostly by the police.
Hotels & other commercial applications
Not just governmental entities benefit from this technology: now many commercial applications use the same high quality functions for registering guest data quickly and automatically. Passport readers are used at front office desks where foreign visitors are also expected, so they can identify themselves with their passports. Common usage areas are hotel reception desks, car rental offices, festivals, etc.
Quality assurance in passport production
Passport scanners, with appropriate verification software are capable of detecting any production failures and discrepancies. Therefore, such equipment is widely used when producing identity documents, as a key step in the quality assurance process.
INTRODUCTION TO ID SCANNERS
ID scanners work the same way as passport readers – these devices are designed for extra fast operation, mainly for acquiring or checking customer data. This way, the lengthy manual input is decreased to a few seconds only. Usually, the ID verification capabilities of these devices are limited compared to passport scanners.
Benefits that ID scanners offer
These identity scanners are super-compact, capture the personal data automatically – but in fact, their benefits include much more.
The guest data entry, that was previously typed in manually, is now performed by an ID scanner that does the same within 2 seconds. This saves several minutes per person, resulting in an incredible time resource difference when calculating with weeks or months – and resulting in enhanced customer experience.
Flawless input accuracy
Manual data entry is error-prone: each of 100 typed characters is a mistake. ID scanners use modern OCR technology for capturing personal data flawlessly. There is no customer data error in the system anymore.
Secure access control
In visitor management systems, access control gets more secure when an ID scanner is used for checking guests’ identity documents. The business does not just have a proof of a person that visited the place but can use the data for age verification purposes as well (such ID scanners are often referred to as age verification scanners).
Personal data privacy guaranteed
In several front-office operations, identity documents are scanned and stored on photocopies. This implies a huge security risk as the photocopies can often get lost or be taken over by someone without authorization – with all the personal data included.
A digital data storage system, however, makes sure that the data remains in the system, encrypted, this way protecting it from unauthorized access.
Businesses that widely use ID scanners
Any front-office application which manages clients, guests can benefit from ID scanners. Here is a list of examples – some of the users of our technology:
- Banks & insurance companies
- Telco office
- Post offices
- Car rental companies
- Lawyers, notary offices
- Night clubs
- Liquor & tobacco shops
- Festivals & Sport events
This list could be continued a long way. When talking about accommodation, we mean the smallest hostels but even 5-star hotels as well (both are amongst the users). Basically any business that manages guests or clients, can benefit from ID scanners, using all the advantages listed above.