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: Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

Robotic technology in the service of fashion

Feb 27, 2014

Research in robotics and automation being carried out in the Robotics Lab at UC3M is generating advances that go from the control of processes to mechatronics, passing through sensorial processing techniques, ...

Convenience of technology comes at a cost

Nov 29, 2013

As he rose to his feet from a knuckle-dragging crouch, primitive cave man wrapped his newly evolved opposable thumbs around the handy tools of his time - a club or spear - and instantly his life got easier. Two million years ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.