QinetiQ has finally spotted a customer for its SPO millimetre wave crowd-scanning equipment.
The US Transport Safety Administration has placed an order for 12 of the scanners, with an option to order more. QinetiQ confirmed this was the “first substantial sale” for the technology.
The TSA has inked the deal following a trial of the technology on New York City’s Staten Island Ferry system.
Qinetiq said the TSA would be using the devices – all 12 of them - in transportation choke points such as airports and train and bus stations.
“We recognise this is a modest initial order,” said a QinetiQ spokesman.
The company refused to discuss the pricing on the order, or whether subsequent orders would allow it to start dropping the price per unit to a level where authorities could make the technology ubiquitous, rather than popping it up in potential troublespots in a cat and mouse game with any terrorists who may or may not be plotting an attack that day.
QinetiQ’s millimetre wave technology is already in use in scanners at the UK’s channel ports to spot illegal immigrants hiding under lorries and the like. In this case, however, a human is using the scanner and looking for suspicious images.
In the SPO system the human factor is largely removed from the equation. As QinetiQ puts it, the millimetre wave technology is “combined with sophisticated software algorithms”.
It adds: “The technology detects and measures the waves naturally emitted by the human body and determines if there are any ‘cold’ objects, such as metals, plastics and ceramics concealed under a person's clothing. Suspicious objects trigger a red light on the display monitor, prompting the operator to search the individual.“ ®