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TSA Buys Body Scanners That Are Less Graphic

Wednesday, 07 Sep 2011 03:16 PM

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it bought 300 body scanners that show less- revealing images to airport screeners after travelers and airline crews objected to so-called nude images.

The $44.8 million purchase from L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., which uses millimeter-wave technology, brings the number of advanced imaging technology body scanners at airport checkpoints to 800, the agency said today in a statement. Each machine costs $130,000 to $170,000, said Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman.

Software that makes passengers appear as generic outlines is being used to upgrade the L-3 machines that are already in airports, Soule said. Airline pilots are among those who have protested the “nude” images generated by scanners.

The move to use less-graphic images is “a recognition that we could do better,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said today in Washington at a conference hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance and Center for Strategic and International Studies.

TSA soon will begin testing software to make OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan passenger-screening equipment show less- revealing images, Soule said. Those machines, which account for about half of TSA’s body scanners, use backscatter technology to see under a passenger’s clothes.

Millimeter wave scanners use radio-frequency energy, while backscatter scanners use low-intensity X-ray beams.

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