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A Scanner Darkly: Big Brother's Hyperspectral Sensing, Millimeter Waves & Cognitive Software Sees U

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posted on Mar, 19 2005 @ 06:20 PM
Is Big Brother Watching You or 'Checking You Out'? Noble Guardian or Peeping Tom
British Government & Carlyle Group's QinetiQ is currently developing a scanning device that sees under people's clothes to detect not just metal but other potential threats like ceramic weapons or concealed drugs based on electromagnetic technology, known as Millimeter Wave (MMW). QinetiQ is also currently involved in the development of Hyperspectral Sensing that will detect chemicals called pheromones, secreted by one's body, which may indicate agitation or stress. In addition, QinetiQ is also developing next levels in surveillance carried out through cognitive software which monitors his or her movements and sounds a silent alarm if it picks up an unusual pattern. Think Minority Report.

MALVERN, England (Reuters)
...This is no real security alarm: it's a demonstration at the British technology group QinetiQ of a scanning device that sees under people's clothes to spot not just metal but other potential threats like ceramic knives or hidden drugs.

The electromagnetic technology, known as Millimeter Wave (MMW), is just one aspect of a potential revolution in security screening being pioneered at QinetiQ, formerly part of the research arm of the British defense ministry.

...the trend for the future will be to move the scanners outside the terminal building and operate them in "stand-off mode" -- checking people from a distance before they even set foot inside.

From QinetiQ's new managing director Simon Stringer:

The advantage is obvious: to spot potential attackers without alerting them to the fact, and gain precious seconds for security forces to prevent an attack.

Never Let'm See You Sweat

Another prospect in store for air travelers is "hyperspectral sensing" that will check for chemicals called pheromones, secreted by the human body, which may indicate agitation or stress.

"People under stress tend to exude slightly different pheromones, and you can pick this up ... There are sensing techniques we're working on," Stringer said.

The stress may have an innocent cause, such as fear of flying, but could also betray the nervousness of a potential attacker. The point is to alert security staff to something unusual that may need further investigation.

As with MMW, the technology could function at a distance and without the need for people to wait in line. By conducting such checks while people are approaching the airport and moving through it, authorities could avoid bottlenecks and queues.

Minority Report: Big Brother Says Don't Do That

As the passenger proceeds through the terminal, the next layer of surveillance could be carried out through "cognitive software" which monitors his or her movements and sounds a silent alarm if it picks up an unusual pattern.

"Someone who's been back in and out of the same place three times or keeps bumping into the same people might be something that's worthy of further investigation ... I think that's really the sort of capabilities we're going to be looking at," Stringer said in an interview.

Stringer says the potential market for MMW runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars and goes well beyond the transport sector.

"We're spending quite a lot of time talking to multinationals who want to establish perimeter security systems around plant, installations and buildings," he said.

QinetiQ -- owned 30 percent by private equity group Carlyle and 56 percent by the British government -- expects rapid growth for its security business as it gears up for a stock market launch.

Can You Handle The Truth?

But how will ordinary people embrace the prospect of surveillance technology that sees through their clothes, checks how much they're sweating and tracks their airport wanderings between the tax-free shops and the toilets?

Stringer acknowledges that some might see this as George Orwell's Big Brother come true. "There are always going to be issues of privacy here and they're not to be belittled, they're important."

But he says smarter technology will actually make the checks less intrusive than those now in standard practice, such as being searched head to foot after setting off a metal detector alarm.

A Scanner Darkly

* Note: bold & italics added for contemplation

Life seems to be imitating art: from Superman x-ray vision Millimeter Waves, Predator's pheromone signatures (not to mention cloaking suits of near invisiblility), to Minority Report 'pre-crime' cognitive software.
I'm certainly for improved countermeasures against terrorists at airports, subway, train & bus stations,public events,stadiums, theaters, parades, etc. that protect us all, but at what expense to our right to privacy and free expression? Any well intentioned technology as these, IMO, like a potential terrorist attack, it's just a matter of time before abuses and mistakes will occur. Besides a person's humilation of being violated, I also see the potential evolution of these surveillance technologies eventually being integrated with genomics and/or a eugenics screening ushering in an age of Gattaca, where a person's genetics, intelligence, wealth, power determine your class, freedoms, privileges and ability to travel and/or exist. IMO it's not if technologies such as these are/will fall into the wrong hands, no hands are to be trusted.

[edit on 19-3-2005 by Vajrayana]

posted on Mar, 19 2005 @ 11:15 PM
Actually, anybody with a top quality video camera can do the same thing. If your camera can record colour in zero lux(digital nightshot) all you do is place a filter on the lense that blocks out all light under 750 nm. This causes the camera to think it is pitch black and therefor records in nightshot. The effect is that when you capture your images you can see through peoples clothes.

posted on Mar, 20 2005 @ 12:00 AM
Way Above, Vajrayana!

That is some good work on some good, real stuff. God I love reality. Whatever that means...

posted on Mar, 20 2005 @ 02:53 AM

Originally posted by DeltaChaos
Way Above, Vajrayana!

That is some good work on some good, real stuff. God I love reality. Whatever that means...

Thanks DeltaChaos,
On a sidenote, I use to entertain the 'brains in vats' paradox, until certain made flix streamed 4tune$ from it. I think the Hollywood action genre is competing for it's life now since this spectacle-reality has surpassed even the best terrorist scripts to date, with the exception of space & historical epics, armageddon endgame scenarios & time travel.

Even with the potential threats & risks out there, I'd rather take my chances @ shuttle roulette than have loved ones,friends, or I 4ever suspected as persons of interest for Inspector Feelgood's new & improved probing clinic, leaving much trauma & scars instead of security & piece of mind in their pursuit of Sin-Bad.

To some, if it seems I am watching too many movies, well that remains....To Be Continued...


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