A super-sensitive passenger scanner that reveals hidden security threats is being trialled at Cardiff Airport in the UK. The walk-through scanner, which uses space technology to image human body heat was developed by Sequestim Ltd., a collaboration between Cardiff University scientists and QMC Instruments Ltd.
Computer-learning allows the scanner to distinguish between items that are threats and non-threats but without the need for passengers to keep still or remove outer clothing. The technology has the potential to cut queues at airport terminals as it screens people on the move. It will also impact on the effectiveness of security and help keep passengers safe.
Originally built to study the furthest reaches of the universe, the technology used is so sensitive it could see a 100W light bulb at a distance of 500,000 miles (twice the distance to the moon.)
“Any concealed items show up very clearly as a shadow because the human body, by dint of its heat, acts like a light bulb for our scanner. The new scanner images do not present any ethical issues because anatomical details do not show up. No-one will need to see the images when the technology is eventually used for real, however, because the system will be completely automatic” said Ken Wood, sales and marketing director of Sequestim.
The project is one of eight to receive some of the £1.8m Phase 2 funding made available by the UK Government as part of the five-year Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme, the multimillion-pound initiative seeks innovative ideas to help strengthen aviation security.