QinetiQ (Hall 1, D9) has developed a "world first" in advanced imaging technology that can detect weapons and explosives concealed under clothing or in baggage.

The millimetre-wave system provides a real-time moving-image scanning capability that the firm says is set to revolutionise airport and border security. QinetiQ says its system, already tested at Gatwick Airport, could banish the pain of queues at security scanners.

The technology has its origins in defence research programmes that allow pilots to see through fog and cloud and carry out operations in poor weather.

"We've actually come up with dozens of potential applications, from guiding airliners to their boarding gate in zero visibility to spotting people carrying concealed weapons," says Jeremy Attree, director sales at QinetiQ's Sensors and Electronics Division.

The technology works by detecting naturally occurring radiation, as it reflects off different objects. Metal objects completely reflect naturally occurring radiation which means that weapons and explosives hidden under clothing or in bags appear on the scanner display as distinct illuminated shapes.


Other benefits include not exposing individuals to harmful radiation as in existing x-ray systems, and the ability to scan vehicles or people without holding them up.

QinetiQ claims that while existing systems at airports can check a maximum of 17 people per minute, the millimetre-wave imager could cope with three times that number. The system has just completed the first phase of its public assessment trials at the UK's Gatwick Airport. Initial public reaction to the technology was favourable, says the firm.

A second phase of testing is under way at QinetiQ's Farnborough facilities. Psychophysical tests are being carried out to establish how well screeners perform in detecting a variety of threats. "We received an incredibly high response rate from volunteers willing to take part in the trials," says Kevin Murphy, QinetiQ product manager for the millimetre-wave imager.

Source: Flight Daily News