Smart Gate

The Problem

The aim of the redesign is improve and streamline the performance of the current gate. A new technology in iris scanning biometrics will be integrated in the new gate as the main feature that can reduce the process to 8 seconds. There are 3 stops in total to use the gate and takes up a big space in the immigration area. We also need to look into improving the usability as most of the users seem to be confused on where to scan the documents, what to do next, and therefore needs to be guided to finish the process which defeats the purpose of the gate.

My Role

UX Designer. Involved in the research and testing but mostly responsible for conceptualizing the design and prototyping.

Worked closely under our Lead UX Guilherme Rodrigues. (


By working closely with project managers, business analysts and the immigration officers we are able to gather valuable information on what they want to change on the current gate and ideas on how to do it, and from there we started some research on how other airports approach on using their own version of the smart gate.

We convinced the stakeholders to spend some time in the immigration to talk to the officers and observe actual users of the gate which gave us valuable insights. The officer told us that previously, most of the staff wear their military uniforms and they have observed people prefer to fall in line where the attendant is wearing plain clothes, so they require their personnel to wear plain clothes if they are assigned to man the counters. A good observation and an appropriate action was implemented immediately. Salute to the officers!

Working together in-house with the engineers of the iris scanner, we get immediate feedback and are always aware of the technical capabilities and limitations of the device which speed up the design process. We kept regular communication while they work remote on their “labs” for the hardware.

Created actual sized prototypes based on the initial design to test the height, dimensions, angles and basic ergonomics. Also tested UI flow with selected users with varying height, from small to tall based on the accepted average height range.

Using the prototype and a paper UI (manually transitioned), our test shows better average time of 16-23 seconds per user, beating the old gates by half the time.

Our goal is to process each traveller within 8 seconds, we still have a lot of work to do but I’m sure we can get close to that once we have everything finalized. Our design was used as basis for developing the final physical kiosk and hardware and the UI is continuously overseen by our team, improving it everytime we see an opportunity.

Initial proposal for the kiosk contact points; screen/eye scanner, passport scanner, ID scanner and fingerprint. Applying ergonomics to help user better interact with the kiosk.

Knowing the iris scanner effectivity range, we determine the right angle of the monitor/iris scanner casing to effectively capture the users iris considering the average human height and the extremes (short and tall). Made sure the angle is also favorable in reading the UI in airport immigration lighting condition.

Meet mini me, my mini studies for the kiosk prototype made of index card and my own business card (red) represents the contact points.

The actual size prototype from which we conducted the test to validate height, angles, and dimensions. An improvised paper UI is also used to guide the participants in navigating the kiosk during the testing.

To represent our users, we bribed the 3 tallest (5’9” - 6’2”), 3 shortest (4’2” - 5’0”) and 4 average colleagues with candies and chips to participate in the testing. We got the results. They consumed the treats. Everyone happy!

With the test results and insights from the users, we made some small modifications to the design. This proposal will be the basis for the manufacturer to create their design and build the kiosk.

And this is what they came up with. Not exactly what we designed but you can see the obvious similarities. Happy we were able to contribute to the final product design. This rendering is not mine and was supplied by the manufacturer.

UI and flow for using the fingerprint and ID.

UI and flow for using the Iris scan and passport.

Lessons Learned

Try something different. Designing the kiosk is not something I always get a chance to do. Most of the time, I create designs for digital products like web and mobile applications so this was a great opportunity to build something different and was a great experience.

Collaborate. I enjoyed the part working with the hardware engineers. They were very helpful during development of the concept and prototype, explaining the technical capabilities and limitations, and guiding us on each step. A lot of compromise on both sides was made but generally went smooth until we have a working product. Same with the project managers and the officers who gave their views and ideas that contributed to the final product.

Prototype. Test. Repeat.The condition and behavior is different because the user is in constant pressure to complete the task. First, user needs to go through the process to get immigration clearance. Second, someone is waiting behind in line which adds to the pressure. And third, there is no one to guide the user in the process. User will rely on visual cues and instructions the UI provides. It must efficiently guide the user on what to do once the user enters the gate.

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