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Radio telescope technology reveals hot bodies on Earth

A new imaging system uses millimeter wave sensor technology to detect concealed weapons.

Brijot Imaging Systems

A new imaging system promises to pinpoint the location of a weapon concealed on a person without using a metal detector, a pat-down or the slightest dose of radiation, all thanks to some heavenly technology.

The BIS-WDS Prime combines "millimeter wave sensor" technology, video cameras and algorithm software to detect "objects made of metal, plastic, ceramic and composite hidden beneath a subject's clothing" from up to 45 feet away, according to manufacturer Brijot Imaging Systems. The subject doesn't have to stand still or even know he's being scanned.

The technology, which is used mostly in radio telescopes and high-speed microwave links, works by contrasting the millimeter wave "signature" of the human body, which is hot and reflective, against that of the gun, knife or bomb. Those objects appear cold and dark because of their molecular structure.

The system can be installed in a typical metal detector-style portal or deployed covertly, a feature that helps prevent malefactors from casing and circumventing a facility's security measures. And speaking of hot and not-so-hot bodies, privacy advocates are concerned because this technology would allow airport screeners to see travelers without clothing.