Full body scanners in airports use radio waves or x-rays to search for concealed items. The radio waves penetrate clothing, and show the presence of any items beneath the clothing, as well as the shape of the body beneath. This helps prevent terrorists from smuggling non-metal items that would not show up in a metal-detector, but has roused some privacy concerns in groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). These privacy concerns could be alleviated by the use of AI software in the viewing process.

Airport Security X-ray Machines and Radio Wave Machines

Airport security x-ray machines, and full body scanners that use radio waves, operate under the same basic principles. In each, low levels of radiation are used to penetrate clothing in order to see everything beneath the layers of clothing. The person being scanned must enter a booth and is often required to raise his arms in order to provide clear access to all areas of the body.

As the passenger stands in the scanning booth, a security officer watches the resulting image, to make sure that there are no items hidden beneath the passenger’s clothing. The fact that the image shows the outline of an individual’s body without clothing has caused alarm from the ACLU. According to Jay Stanley, the public education director for the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program, the full body scanners are the equivalent of “virtual strip searches”

Security Scans using Artificial Intelligence Programming

Security scans using artificial intelligence programming to evaluate the images produced by the machine would avoid privacy concerns. An L-3 full-body scanner that uses software to analyze the image is already being tested in Amsterdam. In order to be successful, this type of AI software would have to be fairly robust and flexible to accommodate the variety of human shapes, and identify items that are out of place. This could be accomplished in a number of ways, but the use of neural networks and some type of machine learning algorithm would most likely be successful.

An artificial neural network combines many small processors in imitation of the neural networks present in the human brain. Using machine learning algorithms on a neural network would provide enough processing power to accomplish detailed analysis of images. Not only could the AI software identify items that are out of place, it would be able to identify those items and send an alarm for human intervention when necessary.

AI Software Enhances Security

AI software, used in full body scanners, can improve airport security without sacrificing the privacy of the average airline traveler. By using a computer to evaluate images, airlines not only eliminate ‘human error’, but also protect the traveler from any embarrassment that might arise from being viewed without clothing.