x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Idex visitors take a look at advanced portable airport body scanners

Idex 2013: The ThruVision scanner was presented this week for the first time in the Middle East at the exhibition.

Digital Barriers show off a scanner that can be used in airports for security screenings, during the Idex exhibition. Sammy Dallal / The National
Digital Barriers show off a scanner that can be used in airports for security screenings, during the Idex exhibition. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // The world's most advanced passive screening technology may soon be replacing bulky body scanners at airports.

The ThruVision scanner was presented this week for the first time in the Middle East at the exhibition.

Richard Hird, Middle East vice president of Digital Barriers, the manufacturer, said the device was developed for accurate concealed object detection, flexible deployment and ease of operation.

"If you think of the size of the traditional security screening at the airports, this only weighs 23kg and can be installed quickly and discreetly," said Mr Hird. "These units are compact and deployable in minutes. They are also capable of detection up to 10-15m."

"We are in talks with local Emirati company, Al Hamra group, with a view to selling the technology to the government," added Mr Hird.

The ThruVision technology is able to detect any concealed object made of metal, plastic or rubber under the clothing. "It is not invasive and does not reveal body parts but through the thermal camera we can detect any kind of object under the clothes," he said.

"We are looking to develop key long-term relationships around the Middle East but mostly with the United Arab Emirates based on advice from the UK government.

"We set up our Middle East headquarters in Dubai 18 months ago."

Ron Frye, ThruVision's director of International Business Development, said they are focusing on airports and other facilities in Asia and the Middle East.

In 2011, Brig Gen Ahmed bin Thani, the director of the airport security department at Dubai Police, said that full-body scanners would not be introduced to the public at Dubai airports due to protection of privacy and health.

Dubai Police, however, later revealed that three scanners are in use for suspected drug traffickers.

Dubai police had been considering purchasing the controversial machines - which create images of passengers' bodies through their clothing - in 2011, when officials suggested they could be modified to protect privacy and health.

However, Brig Gen Thani said that international standards adopted by the airport in 2007 were already adequate to ensure passenger safety.

Similar issues were raised worldwide in countries like Australia, Germany, Italy and the UK.

amustafa@thenational.ae