INTRODUCTION TO PASSPORT READERS
It is a safe bet that your passport has already been scanned by a passport reader device, most probably at an airport. Smart scanners enhance security at border control, law enforcement, and other governmental applications. Read on for an overview of passport reading technology.
How Passport Readers Work
A passport reader or 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 that the latter 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 for specific image processing tasks, mainly for data reading and document verification.
Key Functions of Passport Readers
During the passport reading process, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software analyzes the scanned images. First, it identifies the document type, then digitalizes the characters. It outputs segmented personal and document data, such as name, date of birth, nationality, document number, expiry date, and more.
With the fast-scanning setting of conventional USB models, where the processing is done on the connected PC, this whole process happens within seconds.
The images scanned under different illuminations go through deep software analysis to find discrepancies compared to reference images of genuine identity documents. The system cross-checks 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 of them can read digital (chip) data as well:
Amongst printed data, there are MRZ (Machine Readable Zone), VIZ (Visual Inspection Zone), face portrait, and barcodes.
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, such as face photographs or fingerprints, securely.
Typical Applications of Passport Readers
Land borders, sea borders, and airports have been using passport reader devices since the 1990s. Since then, technology has evolved a lot, and now it is a must for any border control system to aid human expertise with smart technology. These devices have to work steadily and uninterrupted 24/7.
Automated Border Control
More and more border control systems are transformed to Automated Border Control (ABC) to perform passport checking and identity verification without human interaction automatically. To speed up the procedure, electronic gates are used.
Passport readers help detect forgeries and verify the identity in various law enforcement applications, mostly by the police.
Hotels & Other Commercial Applications
Governmental entities aside, commercial applications use passport readers to register guest data quickly and automatically.
Common usage areas are hotel reception desks, car rental offices, festivals, etc.
Quality Assurance in Passport Production
Passport scanners with appropriate verification software can detect production failures and discrepancies. They play a key role in the quality assurance process of identity document production.
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. Compared to passport scanners, the ID verification capabilities of these devices are usually limited.
Benefits of ID Scanners
Guest data entry can be performed within two seconds. This saves several minutes per person, freeing up time resources and enhancing customer experience compared to manual entry.
Manual data entry is error-prone. ID scanners use modern OCR technology to capture personal data flawlessly and eliminate all customer data errors in the system.
Secure Access Control
An ID scanner used for checking guests’ identity documents enhances security and compliance in visitor management systems. ID scanners are often referred to as age verification scanners too.
Guaranteed Personal Data Privacy
In several front-office operations, identity documents are scanned and stored in photocopies, implying a security risk.
A digital data storage system ensures that the data remains in the system, encrypted, and protected from unauthorized access.
Businesses Using ID Scanners
Any front-office application which manages clients and guests can benefit from ID scanners. Here is a list of examples – some of the users of our technology:
- Hospitality industry (from small hostels to five-star hotels)
- Banks & insurance companies
- Telco offices
- Post offices
- Car rental companies
- Lawyers, notary offices
- Night clubs
- Liquor & tobacco shops
- Festivals & sport events
Basically, any business that manages guests or clients can benefit from ID scanners, using all the advantages listed above.