Could this be the end of airport security checks?

New technology developed by Cardiff University might reshape the future of airport security checks

Walking through security is among the dullest moments when it comes to travel. However, this requirement could soon be taking a walk down memory lane.

Cardiff University in the United Kingdom has developed walk-through security scanning that is derived from astronomy detection.

The technology uses sensitive infrared cameras that can detect a 100-watt lightbulb from 800,000 kilometres away.

Unlike regular scanners, the cameras use the body as a source of light — mariakraynova / Shutterstock Could this be the end of airport security checks?
Unlike regular scanners, the cameras use the body as a source of light — mariakraynova / Shutterstock

The human body acts as a kind of a lightbulb because it is warmer than its surroundings. The body itself is used as a source of light, which is different to conventional scanners that detect reflected waves.

Within an airport, small cameras would examine passengers from various angles as they walk through a short corridor. The image projects through clothes and reveals what the passengers are carrying with them.

The new technology doesn’t require passengers to remove any items of clothing or belongings. They can proceed as they are — with their shoes on and mobile phones in their pockets. Only their bags would go through the usual process as we know it.

It is also able to learn what can and can’t be taken on board an aircraft.

The new technology was developed at Cardiff University — Shutterstock Could this be the end of airport security checks?
The new technology was developed at Cardiff University — Shutterstock

The cameras are so sensitive that, in order to operate, they require temperatures just one-quarter of a degree above absolute zero, or about -273C (-459F).

“Our new camera will be able to look at them in real time, as they simply walk past, and will be able to ignore all their personal items. But if you’ve got a gun or a knife hidden about you, you’d better watch out,” said Ken Wood, sales director of the start-up firm Sequestim.

The current security system is based on metal detectors and X-ray machines. It dates back to the 1970s when aviation security became routine. The new scanner was trialled at Cardiff airport in late 2018.

Sequestim expects the number of passengers put through security screening to increase from 150 to 1,000 per hour. They claim the new system could be launched by 2021.