Bomb-detecting Device Can Smell Explosives On Your Hand
October 5, 2012

Hands-On: Prototype Detects Bombs At Airport Gate

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Airport security might be tightening up behind the lines with Hitachi's announcement of its new bomb-detecting prototype at the airport gate - a device which uses mass spectrometry technology to detect explosives.

The way the device works is a passenger swipes their boarding pass, and a gust of air is blown onto them and then sucked back into the machine.

The machine then instantly tests that air for the presence of explosive particles that may have been on the passenger's hand.

Hitachi said that its device is able to inspect 1,200 passengers per hour, because it is able to detect the presence of explosive compounds within one- to two-seconds.

The company said that this equipment is able to be adapted to entrance security equipment for train stations, stadiums, event halls and other public locations.

"In recent years, to ensure safety and security in transport services, there is a need increase security to discourage and prevent the carrying-on of explosives into to transports such as airplanes," Hitachi said in their announcement. "For example, flight safety would be significantly increased if it were possible to inspect passengers for explosives at the boarding gate, the last point of inspection before boarding the flight."

While metal-based bombs are easily detected at the first security checkpoint before heading towards a terminal, non-metal based bombs are more difficult to detect.

Senior chief researcher Minoru Sakairi told The Australian that the device is an extra layer of security on top of existing measures.  It will be able to detect hidden, non-metal explosives that could be buried in bodies or concealed in underwear.

The downside of the machine is that it would also be detecting explosives on people who legally work with chemicals with explosive characteristics, such as farmers who use fertilizers, according to The Australian report.

Hitachi will be furthering their experiments with a prototype at airports and train stations before determining whether it will commercialize the prototype.