Smiths Detection moves forward with Tunnel of Truth

Published 3 November 2006

Scheduled for deployment at the 2012 London Olympics, the system incorporates a slew of automated measures to detect explosives and weapons; scheme resembles GE’s Checkpoint of the Future, including the use of the much-maligned puffer machines

Once one has taken his sweetheart through the tunnel of love, a cynic might say it was time for a trip through the tunnel of truth. When Smiths Detection talks about a “Tunnel of Truth,” however, it is not referring to a confidential discussion of financial and family planning matters. Instead, the tunnel is an advanced security checkpoint the company is planning to deploy to the 2012 London Olympics, one that involves a series of searches for weapons, explosives, and biohazards. The Tunnel of Truth includes a CCTV facial-recognition system that checks images against a database of photographs of known or suspected terrorists; trace examination of tickets and travel documents; an explosives detection portal, also known as a puffer; and a device to identify radiation and chemicals agents.

The future is bringing the technologies to work together and then integrating them into the infrastructure of a building,” said Bill Mawer, Smiths’ vice-president of strategy business development and technology. Indeed, this is not the first such comprehensive approach. We have reported frequently on a similar endeavor by General Electric. At GE’s Checkpoint of the Future, located at an unused terminal at San Francisco International Airport, the company is testing a security screening process intended to move passengers through in thirty seconds or less. That system includes a scan of the passenger’s finger for explosive and drug particles; an automated CT scan examining object densities for explosive signatures; a virtual pat down in a glass pod utilizing “millimeter wave” technology; screening the passenger’s shoes using GE’s ShoeScanner technology; and, if necessary, analyzing the contents of suspicious bottles with StreetLab laser technology.

-read more in David Brown’s London Times report