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Hey, You Know What Else Full-Body Scanner Companies Are Building?

September 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM | by | ()

The Center for Investigative Reporting's CaliforniaWatch project just posted an article about companies that are benefiting from the switch to new full-body scanners. Jaunted readers will be familiar with the broad outlines of the story: first there was a huge influx of money into pro-scanner lobbies working in DC, then TSA spent hundreds of millions of dollars on scanners that weren't ready for prime time, then they had to spend all that money again on Gingerbread Man scanners that were more acceptable to the public. And throughout everything scanner companies pocketed the spending.

But as outrageous as all that is—and make no mistake, it's totally infuriating—that's not what this post is about. Instead what caught our eye was something toward the very bottom of CaliforniaWatch's report, in the second to last paragraph. Apparently the companies that make technology for the full-body scanners can kind of do magic. For instance American Science and Engineering, a company that works on full-body scanners, also makes another kind of mobile x-ray machine that "can reveal hidden items inside passing vehicles."

This is actually kind of an old story, though it's new in the context of "who's making money off what technology" and there are fairly new videos about it (see below). More technical details can be found in this 2010 writeup. Apparently the government can put x-ray machines on the top of vans and see inside cars and trucks that drive by. Who knew?

So consider this your once-every-few-months reminder that - though our nation's airport security is often a combination of bumbling incompetence and pathetic bullying and security theater - there are very smart people out there working on very cool things that are keeping airports safe. Last time it was mobile radiation sniffers. This time it's mobile x-ray machines.

So very cool things. Insanely creepy things, but nonetheless kind of cool.

[Photo: mashable / YouTube]

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