VINCI Airports

Vinci uses facial recognition to bring the world's first biometric assistant to life

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The digital transformation in the aviation sector has accelerated in recent years worldwide. New digital services are being developed in many airports. For example, Geneva Airport, with GVApp, has digitized the entire passenger journey. In other countries, Big Data analyses are used to optimize pedestrian traffic. We have been working with our customer for 4 years and in 2020, VINCI Airports & Lyon Aéroport announced the launch of MONA, the world's first mobile biometric assistant that uses facial recognition.

VINCI Airports, an international airport operator

With 45 airports, a presence in 12 countries and 15,000 employees, VINCI Airports is the largest airport group in the world. For years, passenger services have been at the heart of the company's concerns, and this is notably achieved through digital solutions. For example, VINCI Airports is the first airport group in Europe to have launched a free and unlimited WIFI service for its customers.

An innovative product to serve the passenger

When traveling, the airport is often a source of stress for passengers. Every step of the way has its own set of concerns: not missing your flight, difficulties in finding the right terminal, security checks, queuing for boarding... It is with this in mind that the Lyon Aéroport and Atipik teams started the first discussions in December 2019, with the goal of providing a service to accompany visitors on the Lyon Aéroport mobile app. MONA is a travel companion that guides travelers from home to their plane's takeoff. It promises to reduce stress and save time at the various check-in points thanks to the use of facial recognition.

A connected, practical and intelligent product

With the addition of MONA to the mobile app, we have rethought the passenger's journey. The idea was not only to save time, but also to offer relevant services at the right time. What could be worse than receiving a lounge access proposal while you are already in the boarding lounge without the possibility to go back, or receiving a notification with a promotion coupon, after the doors of your plane have closed. This will not happen with MONA, the assistant is fully interconnected with other airport information systems (Saleforces, Magento, etc.) and therefore knows your habits, your position in real time and your preferences. So, once you have passed the security checkpoint, if you are used to sitting in a lounge, MONA will guide you there and offer you instant access.

How facial recognition works in Lyon airport

The main attraction of MONA and what makes it cutting edge from an experiential point of view is the use of facial recognition for travelers. By creating their biometric profile from home, in the mobile app, passengers departing from Lyon airport enjoy an optimal experience at the various points of passage in the airport. At each step: security check, boarding... travelers do not need to carry their ID or boarding pass. Their face authorizes their passage when it is recognized by the system. The use of this facial recognition technology is a win-win situation for everyone: the passengers with a simplified journey, the airport with a reduction in waiting time. In the context of a global pandemic, the absence of contact is an additional security feature.

Even before launching the project, we knew that the collaboration with our partner was going to have to be intense, close and efficient, especially because of the pandemic context and the complexity of the project. From the very beginning, our project team felt confident in the seriousness and ideas provided by Atipik's team, which allowed us to be efficient throughout the initial development of the MONA service on our mobile app. We are still working with them today to enrich and develop the service on the same basis. 
Cesar Clary, Innovation & Digital Project Director Lyon Aéroport / VINCI Airports

Security and privacy issues

The use of facial recognition is becoming more widespread around the world, but there are many legitimate concerns about this technology. At Atipik, we approach this debate from a clear angle: it's about being precise about how biometric data is used, about leaving full control to the passenger, and about making sure, as the designer and developer of the product, that the rules imposed by the reference organizations are respected. As you can imagine, air security was also a key issue in the implementation of this project, with MONA we are replacing a physical and human control of identity documents to take a plane, something totally inconceivable a few years ago, yet we managed to do it. Throughout the project, we worked with authorities such as the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés) and the DGAC (Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile) to ensure that individual liberties and confidentiality were respected and that air safety was ensured under the same conditions as an ordinary passenger journey.

Beyond the use of facial recognition, a complete service is made available

The benefits of facial recognition for travelers are complemented by a comprehensive experience. At each step of the journey, from their home to the plane, we accompany them with a timeline. The user has a timeline that contains the different stages associated with their trip. For each step, a map shows the most relevant information and services. At the airport, facial recognition allows the user to know exactly what stage he is at. This timeline is also available for users who do not want to benefit from the facial recognition route. They will have the same information, but it will not be adapted in real time and they will not benefit from the time saved by facial recognition.

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The card highlighted above corresponds to the "Free time" stage, when the user is in the Duty Free area before boarding. MONA suggests personalized offers adapted to his preferences. If he wishes to eat, he receives discounts in certain restaurants or cafes with the indication of their location. Thanks to a timer and the walking time indicated to go to the boarding gate, the user does not need to run anymore and can do his shopping or eat, without rushing!

In the same way, if a passenger has 2 days to go before his departure, MONA shows him what he has to think about to prepare his trip: the reservation of a parking space, a checklist with all the important points to take care of before his departure (ID card, Visa, PCR test...) or the presentation of the different services offered by the airport.

MONA offers the traveler everything he needs for his trip in real time!

An innovative service, appreciated by users

Launched in September 2020, in a complex health context, MONA has proven itself since the airport reopened. Nearly 90% of MONA users agree to submit their biometric profile on the platform and make full use of the features designed to simplify their travel.

MONA users save an average of 30 minutes over their entire journey and the excellent 60% conversion rate during the multiple steps of configuring their biometric profile is a testament to the extensive optimization of the user experience. Finally, the use of all the cards proposed by the assistant by the vast majority of users confirms the relevance of the choices made as well as the information and services proposed.

Pre-launch user interviews confirm these positive results

Before the online launch of the service, participants tested the mobile path in advance. This is a very important practice at Atipik, as it allows us to identify imperfections or blocking points from an ergonomic point of view. Among the summary of results, we received user feedback that agrees with the results stated above. MONA is considered as an innovative service and is appreciated by all users. Some testers were more interested in the time savings offered by MONA, while others see the interest of the personalized offers in the "Free time" stage. Finally, one of the only difficulties that was noted is the following: the anchors to MONA on the app are still shy. This is due to the fact that this service is currently only available on a selection of flights.

We hope that the positive results of this service will eventually lead to the generalization of MONA to all flights!