Shoe Scanner Walks into Airports


According to the Charleston Gazette, the federal government has approved technology developed by General Electric that could allow passengers at U.S. airports to move through security queues without having to remove their shoes and jackets. The system is designed to fit in with the Transportation Security Administration's Registered Traveler program, which allows passengers to pre-register before flights so that background checks can be conducted ahead of time. They then get biometric cards designed to work at selected kiosks, like GE's.

The GE platform lets passengers in a fast track security line enter identifying information on a touch screen while their shoes are scanned for bombs and residue from their fingers is analyzed for traces of explosives. The program is meant to suppliment carry-on baggage X-ray machines and metal detectors, not replace them. Private companies administer the program for TSA. One, Verified Identity Pass, operates the Registered Traveler program in Orlando and has plans to expand it to John F. Kennedy International as well as airports in Cincinnati, San Jose, and Indianapolis in the coming weeks.

Another contractor, Unisys, is looking into the technology and may also acquire backscatter X-ray systems currently being tested by the TSA in Phoenix, which see through clothing to detect hidden weapons. Some airlines are balking at TSA's Registered Traveler program, saying it competes with their offerings of special security lines for first-class and frequent fliers at some airports.

The TSA program, though on the board for a while, is only in use at Orlando currently.  


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