Sky Harbor International Airport was the first in the US that undertook the task of testing a new body-scanning machine, where if proved successful in daily use, could potentially replace the metal detectors which passengers walk through at airports. Thursday afternoon marked the day and time where security officials started sending passengers through the full-body scan machine at the airport’s Terminal 4 on a test basis. This new body scanning machine utilizes radio waves to detect foreign objects, creating an image based on energy that is reflected from the body. This digitally composed image is then viewed by an operator in a private screening room, where the faces of those being screen have been blurred out so that their privacy will be preserved.
For those who are worried that the images displayed would outrage their modesty, fret not. According to Whitney Weller, a spokesman for L-3 Communications, the defense contractor that developed the machine, the scanned images are not explicit in any way. Some privacy advocates have equated this form of body scanning to strip searching, but Mr. Weller claims otherwise, saying that it is a “safe and effective method that most people prefer”. Is that statement true? Research has shown that up to 70% of people prefer an electronic method instead of being groped. I suppose I don’t mind, but there would be a certain amount of prudes around that do. Which camp do you fall into?
The 3D image garnered resembles that of a photo negative, where the passenger’s body is colored in silver tones against a black background. A media demonstration showed that a female model displayed nothing but the outline of clothing including a brassiere and underwear, but nothing else beyond the body’s contours were shown. The scanning portal takes no more than 5 seconds to scan a whole body, which makes the entire boarding process much faster.