ICA to fully roll out AR application to train officers to detect forged passports

SINGAPORE – The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has developed a training application that uses augmented reality (AR) to help trainees differentiate between genuine and forged passports without the use of actual documents.

The application, which is installed on tablets, currently has a library of 24 genuine and forged passports from 16 countries.

Piloted since December last year, about 50 officers from ICA have used it as part of their Document Examination (Basic) Course, where they study the security features of the digitised passports.

Developed by the ICA Training Command at the Home Team Academy, the application will replace traditional paper-based assessments.

It is expected to be fully rolled out for all trainees taking the course from next month, with an expected 350 officers using it annually.

The passports are digitised down to the finest details, requiring trainees to tilt and move their tablets around to identify the features that determine if a passport is real or forged.

These include micro-text, printing discrepancies and hidden watermarks.

Tools like UV light and a magnifier are also part of the AR experience.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Candice Sin, a senior document analyst with ICA, hopes the application will be able to improve training processes.

“This initiative came about because passports generally degrade over time during training, passing through multiple hands,” she said.

“The application means the documents can be preserved, and will also allow for training to be rolled out more efficiently, as all it requires is a tablet and the digitised documents can be replicated across multiple devices.”

ASP Sin, who has been with ICA since 2012, added that the application is not meant to replace the touch and feel examination of documents completely.

She said: “It’s not meant to replace the physical element completely, but will help supplement training. So far, we’ve had pretty good feedback and are looking to scale up the use of the application to other areas, such as refresher training for officers at the checkpoints.”

Sergeant Afiqah Suhaini, who joined ICA two months ago, was among the first batch of trainees taking part in the pilot.

She said the application made training more engaging.

“So the AR actually makes learning more fun and engaging, allowing us to check for the security features in the travel document, similar to the way we would examine a physical passport,” she said.

“I’m proud to be part of the pilot, and look forward to see what other areas will be improved as part of ICA’s digital transformation.”

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