5 Airport Body Scanner Patents Stripped Down
Here's a deep dive on five patents applying X-ray backscatter technology to airport contraband detection. These screening machines have been much in the news recently, amid controversy regarding both their effectiveness and the amount of radiation exposure to which travelers are subjected. The patents we'll look at are from prime players in the airport body scanner field. This list is led by Rapiscan Systems Inc. , of Torrance, Calif., which in 2009 won the TSA contract to supply whole-body imaging scanners to U.S. airports. Also included is Martin Annis, a pioneer in body scanning who founded American Science and Engineering Inc. (ASAE) of Billerica, Mass. in 1958. In 1980, Annis was awarded one of the first personnel scanner patents. Finally, L-3 Communications Security and Detection Systems Inc., of Woburn, Mass., has sold numerous explosives detection devices to the military and vied for the TSA contract. Selected diagrams from five patents are included to illustrate inventors' efforts at enhanced privacy, through which explicit body part imagery is replaced by a mannequin-like view, as well as to show attempts to reduce traveler exposure to x-rays through more sophisticated radiation source arrays.