An extremely sensitive passenger scanner that reveals hidden security threats is currently being trialed at Cardiff Airport in the U.K.
According to BBC, the walk-through scanner is the result of a collaboration between Sequestim Ltd. and Cardiff University scientists. It uses space technology to image human body heat and it can distinguish between threats and non-threats without passengers having to keep still or removing outer clothing and personal items such as phones.
Around 12 million passengers travel by plane every day on 120,000 flights. 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. According to Ken Wood, Sales and Marketing Director of Sequestim Ltd., the number of passengers will double in 20 years and this could mean increased pressure for airport security facilities.
“Our scanner combines a number of world-leading technologies developed by our team here in the UK. It uses the human body as a source of “light”, in contrast with existing scanners which process reflected and scattered millimeter-waves while the passenger is required to strike a pose.”
The trial takes place privately, by invitation only until December 7th, 2018, and will not affect passengers' journeys. Its goal is to prove that passive terahertz imaging is fast and extremely convenient. The project is one of eight to receive some of the £1.8m funding made available by the U.K. Government earlier this year through a Defence and Security Accelerator themed competition. Part of the five-year Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme, the multimillion-pound initiative seeks innovative ideas such as this new passenger scanner to help strengthen security in the aviation sector.
The technology was originally built to study the furthest reaches of the universe, and it is so sensitive it could see a 100W light bulb at a distance of 500,000 miles (twice the distance to the Moon.) The scanner can determine the difference between items that can and cannot be taken onto an aircraft, reducing the risk of false alarms which inconvenience passengers and slow down screening. Also, there are no ethical issues associated with the use of the scanner as anatomical details do not show up.
The trial of the passenger scanner in December represents a first for Wales and a local collaboration with enormous impact potential. First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: “Welsh Government and Cardiff Airport are delighted to be hosting the proof-of-concept trial of Sequestim’s innovative technology. This cutting-edge security camera not only promises a huge improvement in our experience of air travel but also brings with it the prospect of job creation as Sequestim aims to manufacture future scanners here in Wales.”