Airport Security Goes All Total Recall

Ty Dunitz August 25 Offbeat

Continuing today’s completely unintentional theme of movie technologies given flesh (er… or the lack thereof, in this case) is a riff straight outta Total Recall. In an attempt to better identify terrorists and other baddies in airports, theme parks and other public places, the Wright State Research Institute is developing a system that can scan a person’s skeleton on-the-fly for traces of … I dunno, badness?

“[Terrorists] can’t disguise their bones,” says research engineer Phani Kidambi, who’s leading the project. “That’s where we thought this technology has some merit.”

Kidambi’s got a point. Here, I thought they’d be scanning for, like… guns. But I suppose skeleton-as-fingerprints is a pretty novel concept in and of itself. Outwardly, one can pretty much change anything about their appearance. The hardcore can even have fingerprints changed or removed. Of course, you’d have to have had your skeleton previously scanned, but… gotta start somewhere, I guess. “You can have a great tool that collects body scans of the general public,” says Ryan Fendley, the Institute’s director of operations and strategic initiatives, “but if you don’t have anything to compare them to you haven’t done anything.”

True say. Another challenge is distance. As it stands, suspects have to be within 6 feet of the equipment – not exactly a dynamic system. “If we had that problem solved, we’d be in market right now,” says Julie Skipper, associate research professor at WSRI.

So, basically, this isn’t much more than a standard xray machine as of yet. We may as well lie down on the airport conveyor belt and be scanned that way… once they already have us on file. But this being 2010, I’m sure they’ll have it iPhone-sized in no time.

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.
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