New body scanners arrive at PDX - KPTV - FOX 12

New body scanners arrive at PDX

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Transportation Security Administration officials unveiled the Advanced Imaging Technology Unit at Portland International Airport on Monday and they say it'll enhance security and passenger privacy all at the same time.

Eight machines are at PDX right now.

With the new technology you'll still have to take off your shoes, belt, watches and everything in your pocket, but TSA says the process should reduce the number of full body pat downs.

Here's how they work.

Passengers walk through, stand at marked footprints and raise their hands above their heads. The machine bounces waves off the body, looking for potential threat items.  If the software detects something suspicious, a generic outline of a person appears on a nearby monitor, highlighting where the item was found.  If the passenger is safe, the text "OK" appears.

What's different about these scanners is that they are not X-ray machines.  Passengers had concerns about previous body scanners, saying they revealed too much, but these new scanners use a generic outline of a body for all passengers.  TSA says this is less invasive and will increase privacy.

They also say the technology is safe because it uses low-frequency waves with an output that's less than a cell phone.

The scanners are highly sensitive, detecting metallic and non-metallic items on a passenger, alerting officers exactly where to look for the potential threat.

"That's easier on the passenger, certainly easier for officers.  You don't have to get up and down all day doing pat downs, so that's a wonderful thing," TSA Federal Security Director for Oregon, Michael Irwin said.

Each scanner costs about $150,000.  About 78 airports use them nationwide.

Airports in Eugene and Medford are expected to get the new technology later this month.

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