Shoe scanner set to make travel safer

Oct 20, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- An engineer at the University of Manchester has developed a prototype scanner that could be used to detect explosives and weapons hidden in the shoes of travellers.

The SecuriScan system, which is the brainchild of Professor Wuqiang Yang from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, can detect and pinpoint suspicious objects instantly.

The technology could mean travellers of the future will not need to waste time taking off their shoes – and the long queues seen at airports today could disappear.

Instead, security staff may be able to spot people with concealed items in their shoes as they walk through passport control or through traditional security checks. Passengers would not necessarily even be aware their feet were being monitored.

After the research was featured in The Observer newspaper and on ITV Granada Reports, the scanner has now triggered considerable interest among airport security chiefs in both the US and the UK.

The current prototype system uses electric and magnetic sensing to form a colourful computer image of a person’s shoes. The shapes of both metallic and ceramic knives are clearly visible when inserted into shoes in lab conditions.

Prof Yang said: “The major difference between SecuriScan and existing security scanning methods is that this patented technology does not use any radiation source, such as x-ray, which causes safety concerns and is expensive both to purchase and maintain, and microwave, which uses the same technology as used in microwave ovens and again causes safety concerns.

“At present, what we have is basically a laboratory toy. What we need to do now is develop a more advanced and realistic prototype and for this we need the co-operation of industry and the relevant authorities.”

Prof Yang says that once the system has been fully developed, it would cost only a few thousand pounds and could be installed under carpets, tiles or flooring in airports

He says it is also capable of learning the characteristics of new threat substances and non-metallic weapons. In this way, the system would not rely so heavily on a human spotting as threat, as the technology would alert staff when it spotted something suspicious.

Prof Yang, who is based in the Sensing, Imaging and Signal Processing Group, is now working on hand-held versions of the detector that could be used to screen abandoned luggage or to scan envelopes and parcels delivered to companies.

He is also looking at whether the underlying technology – known as electrical capacitance tomography – could be used in the detection of plastic land mines.

Provided by University of Manchester

Explore further: Desktop device to make key gun part goes on sale in US

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why Apple is pitching for the health market

Jun 12, 2014

Thousands of developers descended on San Fransisco recently to hear about Apple's big plans for the future. One of the highlights was confirmation, after long speculation, that the company would indeed be ...

Physicist's research aids battle against drug smuggling

May 02, 2014

Global security and the fight against crimes such as drug smuggling and weapons trafficking would be massively aided by an improved method of scanning cargoes for concealed items. A technology for this, ...

No consensus on how to notify data breach victims

Mar 09, 2014

(AP)—The data breach at Target Corp. that exposed millions of credit card numbers has focused attention on the patchwork of state consumer notification laws in the U.S. and renewed a push for a single national ...

Recommended for you

Desktop device to make key gun part goes on sale in US

5 hours ago

The creator of the world's first 3D plastic handgun unveiled Wednesday his latest invention: a pre-programmed milling machine that enables anyone to easily make the core component of a semi-automatic rifle.

Minimally invasive surgery with hydraulic assistance

11 hours ago

Endoscopic surgery requires great manual dexterity on the part of the operating surgeon. Future endoscopic instruments equipped with a hydraulic control system will provide added support during minimally ...

Analyzing gold and steel – rapidly and precisely

13 hours ago

Optical emission spectrometers are widely used in the steel industry but the instruments currently employed are relatively large and bulky. A novel sensor makes it possible to significantly reduce their size ...

More efficient transformer materials

13 hours ago

Almost every electronic device contains a transformer. An important material used in their construction is electrical steel. Researchers have found a way to improve the performance of electrical steel and ...

Sensor network tracks down illegal bomb-making

13 hours ago

Terrorists can manufacture bombs with relative ease, few aids and easily accessible materials such as synthetic fertilizer. Not always do security forces succeed in preventing the attacks and tracking down ...

Miniature camera may reduce accidents

13 hours ago

Measuring only a few cubic millimeters, a new type of camera module might soon be integrated into future driver assistance systems to help car drivers facing critical situations. The little gadget can be ...

User comments : 0