RSS

The Bulletin

Hitachi's boarding gate detects explosives as you pass through

Posting in Design

Traps ionized sample compounds in a linear region within a vacuum before conducting analysis.

In only a few seconds, a prototype boarding gate unveiled by Hitachi can tell if you are carrying explosives.

Working with The Nippon Signal Co. and the University of Yamanashi, engineers at the technology firm created a device that blows a short puff of air as a passenger passes -- collecting minute particles that are analyzed to detect explosive compounds.

It takes only 1-2 seconds per scan. By controlling high-speed air flow through an artificial cyclone, it was possible for the engineers to extract particles by shunting out unnecessary gas -- making analysis almost instant. As a passenger swipes an IC card or boarding pass, any explosive residue present is then internally detected through a linear ion trap-type of mass spectrometer.

Explosive materials are highly adhesive by nature. Anyone that handles them can have particles on their hands, clothing or other items they have touched -- which makes the gate an additional layer of technology designed to improve passenger safety.

According to Hitachi, the gate can process 1,200 passengers per hour. The technology can also be adapted for train stations, stadiums, or event halls -- so public places may eventually host the prototype.

Carrying on explosives is not just a concern when it comes down to terrorism. Sometimes, common sense seem to vanish -- as a man who was arrested this year displayed for trying to board with fireworks. The aim of the prototype is to shorten the time it takes conventional metal detectors and x-ray machines to scan for this risk, and to keep passengers safe in the process.

The prototype will be on display at the Special Equipment Exhibition & Conference for Anti-Terrorism (SEECAT' 12) in Tokyo, Japan. Public tests are due to begin next year.

— By on October 4, 2012, 9:46 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure