Airport screening: The new—and you

Companies around the world are pouring research money and brainpower into making the slog through airport security into more of a stroll. Ideally, these innovations improve safety and convenience. But some technologies would require passengers to reveal more personal information than U.S. travelers are used to providing.

  • Liquid
  • Iris
  • Bomb
  • Not-so-naked
  • Fingerprint
  • Shoe
  • Behavioral
  • Biometric
    ID cards


What it does

A scanner checks bottles without opening them, determining, for example, whether that pale liquid is a bomb ingredient or ginger ale.

When you may see it

Some now, more later. The TSA already analyzes liquids that are exempt from the 3-ounce rule, such as medicines.

How it may be better

Current analyzers take 20 seconds — too long to be used for every soda and shampoo. Ideally, you won’t have to take liquids out of your bag.


How it works

A device shoots a laser through the bottle and compares the wavelength pattern to those of bomb-making chemicals. Researchers are studying technologies that don’t require lasers.

SOURCES: Cascade Technologies, Human Recognition Systems, Smiths Detection, L-3 Communications, Rapiscan, Morpho Detection, TSA, Times of India, Globes Online, The Economist
GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz and Alberto Cuadra / The Washington Post - Dec. 17, 2010.

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