New devices could boost airport security
From Allan Chernoff
NEW YORK (CNN) -- As airport security weighs on the minds of travelers and lawmakers alike, some companies are searching for new technology to make the skies as safe as possible.
The new generation of airport security equipment is designed to go well beyond the detection of metal objects.
The Sentinel from New Jersey-based Barringer Technologies Inc. and the Entry Scan from Ion Track Instruments of Massachusetts blow air on passengers, then analyze that air for traces of explosives.
"There has not been any real device at any of the security checkpoints that has the capability to detect any explosives on people," said Paul Eisenbraun of Ion Track Instruments, whose product, along with Barringer's, awaits approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
"You need a multitude of technologies, a system of technologies, to provide as total a solution as you can to contraband your terrorist threat," said Kenneth Wood of Barringer Technologies.
Cyterra Corp. in Waltham, Massachusetts, plans to use its new ground radar technology -- which the military uses to find land mines -- in the airport to scan passengers for weapons.
Responding to fears of chemical or biological terror, Cyterra also has developed buttons that can detect, though not protect you, from such agents.
"You wear this badge," said David Fine of Cyterra. "The badge is kept in a facility, maybe in a train station or in an aircraft. It's analyzed at the end of a flight or once a week. And it tells whether there has been an exposure."
To protect the public from chemical or biological agents, experts say the air in any building or even aircraft would have to be tested and filtered. One device is intended to be used aboard airplanes to neutralize impurities in the air through electric shocks.
The FAA is in charge of approving and purchasing new security equipment for airports. The agency is waiting to find out how much money will be budgeted for such devices in the aftermath of the attacks.
Experts, who say it will take plenty of money and years to deploy new equipment, suggest the best immediate response is to improve operation of existing equipment, an effort under way at the nation's airports.
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