Following a rash of airport security breaches, new products are on the market that could help combat some of the problems. One, a visual stimuli terrorist detection system by Israel’s WeCu Technologies, monitors reactions to visual stimuli and claims a 95% success rate for detecting potential terrorists and criminals. The device flashes stimuli like words or images that are related to certain events like drug smuggling or terrorism and then hidden biometric sensors monitor physical reactions and subtle behavioral changes. They claim that it is nearly impossible to hide physical reactions to the stimuli, especially when the subject is already experiencing heightened anxiety.
Vidient Systems has introduced a product called MFlow which monitors CCTV footage in real time and automatically identifies when someone enters through an exit and immediately activates an escalating series of alerts. The system can even verbally order the person to go back in the other direction. This would have been useful at the Newark airport back in January when a person entering a secured area of the airport through an exit door caused the terminal to be evacuated.
Another less technologically flashy system is the practice of swabbing people’s hands as they pass through security to detect for traces of explosives. Championed by the ACLU as a safe by less intrusive security measure and one that does not rely on profiling, the system is already in place in some airports.
The MFlow and swabbing seem to be welcome and sensible additions that would have an immediate impact on improving airport security. I would think that the stimuli detection system could make non-terrorists nervous if they knew that if they react incorrectly to the images that are being shown to them, that they could be branded a suspicious person and subjected to interrogation. I can imagine people going through security thinking, “Don’t think guilty thoughts” and working themselves into a state of anxiety that would set off the sensors. If it works, however, it would be a terrific reinforcement to security personnel who are trained to look for the same things.