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Heathrow trials new body-scanners

Heathrow is introducing privacy-friendly body-scanners that replace graphic images of the human torso with a cartoon-like picture, suggesting the end of metal detectors and full body searches, according to The Guardian.

The airport has launched a trial using millimetre-wave scanners that bounce electromagnetic waves instead of x-ray beams off a passenger's body. Travellers who set off metal detectors in Terminal 4 will be taken to the passenger-screening area where they will be allowed to look at the scanner's image with security officers. If there is a suspicious package on the person, it will show up as a yellow box on a mannequin-like representation of the passenger's body.

“It will be effective security and a much better passenger experience," Ian Hutcheson, director of security at BAA, told The Guardian. Under previous trials at Heathrow and other UK airports, security officials in an enclosed area view graphic images of passengers’ bodies. BAA plans to use the new scanners in all its airports if the trial is successful.

Hutcheson said body-scanners could ultimately replace metal detectors as the main technology for screening passengers, amid UK and European Union reviews of airport security rules, and claimed that there will be far fewer pat-down searches as a consequence.

Read the full story here: The Guardian

September 5, 2011

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