With all the threats of bombs and hijackers boarding planes, and the recent exposure of how weak our airport security really is, experts are brainstorming of new, high tech ways to catch terrorists. One high tech proposal is to create a system of camera and sensors in airports that will be able to read people’s minds and pick who should be pulled out for extra screening. As unrealistic as it sounds, this is something that can really be done, and chances are, will soon be.
One company is working on making this a reality by creating a system called WeCU – as in “We See You.” The way that this system would work is it would project images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a terrorist group or some other image only a terrorist would recognize. The idea behind doing this is that it will trigger a reaction because people can’t help reacting, even if only subtly or even unconsciously, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. An example of this would be if you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, you couldn’t help but respond. The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing.
The WeCU system would use trained officials to do some of the observing but would mostly rely on hidden cameras or sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate. If the sensors picked up a suspicious reaction, the traveler could be pulled out of line for further screening.
“One by one, you can screen out from the flow of people those with specific malicious intent,” said Ehud Givon, CEO of WeCU Technologies.
Another method for screening passengers that is being worked on by Homeland Security is called the Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, and works like a souped-up polygraph or lie detector test.
The people pulled aside for additional screening would have to go through a number of tests, including scans of facial movements and pupil dilation, for signs of deception. Small platforms similar to the balancing boards used in the Nintendo Wii would help detect fidgeting, which is another strong sign of deception. The balancing boards could also be made to work passively, scanning people as they walk through a security line, helping find individuals with malicious intent. Field testing of the FAST system could begin in 2011 and will cost around $20 million to develop.
As much as this sounds like science fiction, this is something that will soon be common practice in most airports, and hopefully will be enough to catch terrorists and keep passengers safe. And at the same time, should cut down the time wasted by using random security checks on people that would most likely not be terrorists, such as 80-year-old grandmothers or students.