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by Mike Zazaian September 15, 2006 - 1:30pm, No Comments

3D Model of GE's Checkpoint

With GE’s new Checkpoint of the Future, pat-downs, bare feet and random searches would be a thing of the past.

GE already has a working model of an airport security checkpoint that it claims would revolutionize the way airport security works. Dubbed Checkpoint of the Future, the technology uses a sensor network along with a series of x-ray imaging devies to scan luggage, and passengers, for bombs. The checkpoint also uses iris and fingerprint scanning to identify passengers and check for any harmful materials they might have on them. After gathering the appropriate information, the checkpoint then uses an algorithm to determine the level of threat that the passenger poses. Such checkpoints will be tested soon at San Francisco International Airport

And while it might not be thrilling to be so thoroughly scrutinized each time you fly the friendly skies, the process is fast and uninvasive. When going through the checkpoint passengers could keep their shoes on, their laptops in their bags, and move through the checkpoint at a fairly rapid pace. According to Yotam Margalit, the director of marketing for General Electric’s homeland security group :

We want to find the concept of operation that’s going to yield a high rate of detection and low rate of false positives and have it flow so that it takes passengers 20 or 30 seconds to do everything.

The process of passing through the checkpoing is rather simple, albiet somewhat intimidating. Passengers proceed from the queue and stand on a platform. As a radio frequency signal scans the traveler’s shoes for explosive material, the passenger presses a button in front of him which takes a sample of finger oil and analyzes it for bomb residues. An iris and fingerprint scanner then verifies the person’s identity.

And while the technology is here, and it might improve the current state affairs with airport security, the checkpoints would quite difficult to implement. In order for such checkpoints to be effective, each airport within a given airline’s network would have to use the device, standardization above all being a roadblock for GE. According to Dennis Roberts, director of airport planning and programming at the Federal Aviation Administration, The technology is here. The real challenge comes with policy and politics.

[via cnet]