Keep buying slip-ons and getting pedicures, because new TSA foot scanners don’t pass muster

Even though we’ve come to expect the sound of swishing feet as they shuffle passengers to an airport scanner, we have trouble accepting the fact. It’s the biggest complaint people have about airport scans. TSA workers don’t like it either, saying it slows down the screening process. For the past year, the TSA had been testing four different scanners that would allow people to keep their shoes on, but nothing has quite worked out.

The New York Times reports:

The Transportation Security Administration said it had rejected all four devices because they failed to adequately detect explosives and metal weapons during tests at various airports. One of the scanners is now used in airports in 18 countries.

Tests revealed that machines were good at detecting metal explosives but fell short when it came to plastics and gels. So back to the drawing board we go. Again from the Times:

The government has a $1.4 million contract with Morpho Detection, a subsidiary of the French defense giant Safran, to develop a shoe-scanning machine.
Morpho’s scanner can detect chemical compounds and metal objects, said Brad Buswell, the president of Morpho and a former Homeland Security official. “Our device can detect items to see if there is an explosive in a shoe or simply a pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts,” Mr. Buswell said.
He said the company will be testing a prototype with the T.S.A. this year.

Keep on shuffling!

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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