Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thought police
January 01, 2009

New security check points in 2020 will look just like something out of the futuristic movie, The Minority Report. The idea of the new checkpoints will allow high traffic to pass through just as you were walking at a normal pace. No more, waving a wand to get through checkpoints. The new checkpoint can detect if you have plans to set off a bomb before you even enter the building.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is developing a system called Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST for short. The system uses cameras to detect slight alterations in pupil sizes, blink rate and even direction of gaze. A laser radar called BioLIDAR measures heart rate and changes between heartbeats. The BioLIDAR can even monitor a persons respiration and track movements in the face, neck, and cheeks. Stressed out? A thermal camera will pick up on this too by gauging changes in the skin temperature.

Homeland Security ran a test in September of 140 volunteers using a FAST prototype. The system was very accurately able to pick out people with hostile intent. "We're still very early on in this research, but it is looking very promising," says DHS science spokesman John Verrico. "We are running at about 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception." Homeland Security also selected a group of 23 attendees to be civilian "accomplices" in their test. They were each given a "disruptive device" to carry through the portal and, unlike the other attendees, were conscious that they were on a mission.

"It does not predict who you are and make a judgment, it only provides an assessment in situations," said Burns. "It analyzes you against baseline stats when you walk in the door, it measures reactions and variations when you approach and go through the portal."

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