Office Hours

TSA's next generation body scanners came out of research at PNNL lab

Last week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it would remove backscatter scanning machines from U.S. airports. The decision followed a fail by the company that made those units to devise a satisfying software fix for the problem of images that were deemed too invasive for many airline passengers.

Spokane and other airpots using the backscatter machines will see those replaced. TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the replacements will roll out in early summer 2013.

The next technology to go into the airports has a Washington state pedigree. Starting this summer the TSA will install machines using millimeter wave beams to look for contraband or weapons at the airline checkpoints.

That technology is developed by L-3, a New York company. That technology traces directly to research done at the Pacific Northwest National Labs in the Tri-Cities.

A story from the Review back in 2006 noted that L-3 acquired the rights to the technology after buying it from the California firm that licensed the millimeter wave system developed at PNNL.

Here's the old story for background:

April 1, 2006 in Business

Body-scanning system developed at PNNL may find wider application

The Spokesman-Review 

A New York company that has extensive contracts with the Department of Homeland Security has acquired a body-scanning system developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

L-3 Communications announced this week it has acquired SafeView Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif. SafeView had licensed an innovative holographic body scanner system developed in the 1990s at PNNL’s Richland, Wash., lab.

The technology uses ultra–high frequency waves known as millimeter waves to detect objects that evade the discovery of traditional metal detectors. The non-intrusive, low-radiation system provides a 360-degree image of any objects worn under the clothing of a person scanned by the screening device.

SafeView has already sold versions of its system — called the Scout Personal Screening System — to dozens of customers, including the London transportation system and to the U.S. Department of Defense, which employs the technology to protect people inside Baghdad’s Green Zone.

L-3 officials did not disclose how much the company paid to acquire SafeView. SafeView reported 2005 sales of about $50 million.

A press release on the acquisition said SafeView will help L-3 develop a more advanced set of security systems to be used in the aviation and maritime industries. L-3, which is traded publicly, had revenue of about $12 billion last year.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.





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