Researchers at Wright State Research Institute believe they have found the newest screening technology to identify terrorists and sexual predators: skeletal scans.
Logically it had to come to this. Researchers at Wright State Research Institute believe they have found the newest screening technology to identify terrorists and sexual predators: skeletal scans.
The six engineers and scientists that make up the team believe skeletal scans could be an almost impossible-to-defeat screening solution for airports, sports stadiums, amusement parks, and other public places because it scans below the skin and reveals parts of the human body that are hard to alter. That's right, your bones.
According to a Wright State University press release :
The adult skeleton has 206 bones. Size, shape, density and joint structure make each skeleton slightly different. Throw in an extra lumbar vertebrae or extra rib—which some people have—as well as previously broken bones, implants, screws and other identifying characteristics, and the signatures become even more individual. And the skeletal structural features are fairly stable throughout adulthood. X-rays, gamma rays or other forms of body scanning would be used to create a bone signature for each person. Wright State researchers are currently working on identifying key elements and measurements of the skeleton that differentiate one person from another.
As Research Engineer Phani Kidambi, who is helping lead the effort that got underway in October, put it: while nefarious people can change their faces with disguises, they can't disguise their bones. "Think about a scenario where the face doesn’t match, but the bones match,” Kidambi said. “That definitely is a person of extreme interest because it appears he’s tried to change his face.”
According to the press release, an unidentified researcher had a eureka moment when he discovered online that convicted sex offenders lived in his neighborhood as his daughters prepared to go trick-or-treating.
To create such a screening system, known terrorists and sexual predators would have to have their skeletons scanned and the images stored in a centralized database. Then any installation that installed the technology would scan persons trying to enter a secure area and compare the skeletal scans to the known offender database.
The technology, however, could also have broader applications. Researchers believe governments or corporations protecting sensitive areas or facilities can use skeletal scans to verify that the person trying to access an area is who she says she is.
Also, researchers believe the scan doesn't have to include the whole skeleton, just a part, like the collarbone. And if the researchers leverage already available bone density scanners, Kidambi believes the scanners could be in the field within a year.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Project Activity —the intelligence community's high risk, high reward research wing—has already expressed interest in the technology and invited the researchers to its conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss the idea, according to the press release.
Security expert and blogger Bruce Schneier mocked the idea , writing "Because every country has a database of terrorist skeletons just waiting to be used."
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