Time-shaving body scanner system to go to work in test trials

Time-shaving body scanner system to go to work in test trials
Credit: evolvtechnology

(Tech Xplore)—From Nairobi to Paris to London to Manhattan, everywhere, really, anything can happen when terrorists are loose and at work. Concert halls, sporting events, bus stations, airports—any site drawing in large crowds is a potential target for those who want to cause terror, death, property destruction, blows to the economy.

Body scanning for explosives and other harmful devices has become one tool for public and private officials seeking to avert acts of terror.

Now comes news that a system designed to deliver very fast body scanning is planned for trials at US travel hubs. The system could certainly play a role in preventing mass casualty events at concerts, malls, , train stations.

How fast? Fast as in travelers walking through the gates without having to stop. Fast as in people able to carry all the things they would normally carry, such as phone, keys and wallet through the security gates.

Thomas McMullan in Alphr said the scanners can do the job "in a fraction of a second."

Seattle-based Mark Harris writing in The Guardian, named transport hubs that include Los Angeles and Washington. The Denver airport said its pilot project with Evolv had yet to be finalized. The test in LA is due to run next month for three or four days

These will be the first public trials for the Evolv sentry system. Evolv Technology is the company behind the system.

This is a Massachusetts-based company with an expert group of people including those who joined the company with experience in the physical security space for years.

The team believes that if we are going to try to provide better security without disrupting people's everyday pace of life, then it should be accomplished with the latest sensors, software and analytics.

Is that it for the system? No. Harris said that a security guard with a tablet is nearby and the guard sees either an "all-clear" sign, or a photo of the person with suspicious areas highlighted.

ZDNet's Liam Tung said, "If there is a concealed firearm or bomb strapped to the person's waist, the image will mark where the prohibited item is located on the body."

The Evolv sentry system, according to The Guardian, uses millimeter-wave radio frequencies, just as airport scanners do, along with computer vision and machine learning. ZDNet's Tung said the equipment operates in the 24GHz to 30GHz range.

Reports said the system can do over 800 people an hour.

Harris explained how the technology works.

The scanner has a camera that takes a photo of each person passing through. An AI system has been trained to spot distinctive scattering patterns from objects. Solid state micro-antennas are used to steer radar beams over anyone walking through the gate, and to pick up reflections. That data is fed into this AI system.

What about privacy issues?

"We never build an image that would enable anyone to see anatomical details, so there's no naked peepshow in the first place," says Michael Ellenbogen, Evolv's CEO, in The Guardian report. "None of the raw data is stored and none of the data we do keep is traceable to an individual."

Explore further

US rolls out less revealing airport scanners

More information: evolvtechnology.com/blog/3-way … -impact-the-airport/

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Oct 29, 2016
The implementation seems better than the scanners at airports, but the application represents an increase in the use of radiation to people in situations where they may not even be aware that they are being irradiated.

Even millimeter-wave frequencies have been shown to effect DNA. If this can result in damage has not been determined. Large increases in the use of radiation which has not been determined to be safe may be unwise.

Oct 29, 2016
800 people per hour is approximately one person each 4.5 seconds, which is hard to reconcile with the "fraction of a second" claim.

8000 people per hour would put system performance in the sub-second region.

As to the effects of this "radiation", that should be the least of our worries. The wavelength is non-ionizing, the penetration is a fraction of an inch, the effects are overshadowed by purely thermal effects, and the power is low.

Much more significant would be the adaption of this technology to continuous surveillance in public places. I'm not an advocate of carrying guns, concealed or otherwise, so that is not my concern, but the first concern of the 4th Amendment is "The right of the people to be secure in their persons..." and this attacks it directly.

Air travel is not a right, so I have no trouble with security at boundaries.

Oct 29, 2016
You correctly identify a large problem with the system -- that of violation of the right to privacy.

I am also concerned about radiation which is non-ionizing. It has been shown that the radiation can cause localized separation of DNA strands (a sort of bubble effect), the results of which are unknown. Skin is pretty tough and can probably hold up to that radiation, but corneas are not and may well be damaged in ways which do not immediately become apparent -- even by just the thermal effects.

Oct 30, 2016
Retrosurf, Not really, the equipment can probably work that fast but the guard looking at the readout with need a couple seconds per person and people will be a step or two apart when going though the machine.

Dogbert, you get more intense radiation every time you use a cell phone. A second or so of this isn't going to hurt you. The power level is far too low.

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