For those who break out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of an “unexpected item in bagging area," the fact that self-service security checkpoints are on the horizon may trigger a full-scale panic attack.
A Californian-based startup called Qylur Security Systems has announced it will begin offering automated security checkpoints from next year, after completing a series of small-scale trials of its machines in airports, sports stadiums and other venues over the last few months.
Visually, the checkpoints would not look out of place in a Dr Who studio: a series of white, plastic honeycomb cells cocoon a sensor that automatically scans users for dangerous items, chemicals and nuclear materials.
The idea is that you go to one side of the machine, insert your bag into a small cabin, and scan your boarding pass whereupon the machine uses uses its knowledge of threat categories to assess whether dangerous items are inside. The Qylatron knowledge of the types of threatening items that might be smuggled on an aircraft can be regularly updated to improve the decision-making skills and stay ahead of evolving threats.
Qylur claims that this system is more thorough than traditional human - or even holographic - security officials, lowering the rate of false positives at a reduced cost for airport bosses. Apparently, a single machine with five cells could replace five security lines, moving through the same amount of people in one-quarter of the space, with only five employees as opposed to 15.
Essentially, the company believes its machines can do a whole host of jobs a lot better than a team of trained human beings - all without requiring lunch breaks, sick days or petitions for a pay rise. Furthermore, it claims that the system could even make venues money, with each of the device’s 10 screens existing as open space for ads to be displayed and sold.
Of course, the introduction of self-service technologies in other industries hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Many customers are put off by self-operated checkouts in supermarkets, and the technology has even led to higher rates of theft as a result of customers fooling the system.
Clearly, the real issue for Qylur lies in reassuring people: fooling the system to nab a pack of peanuts is a lot less concerning than what some may wish to smuggle past a machine’s steely gaze on to a passenger-filled aircraft.