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Hands off! – Will Avatar replace manual security checks?

Article published
22.8.2016 at 06:00
Helsinki Airport is testing Avatar security scanners. The new technology promises smoother and faster security checks.

Airport security check:You queue up, leave your carry-on luggage on the belt and pass through the metal detector. Beep! The alarm rings and you’re picked to undergo an extra check.

At this point the routine procedure at Helsinki Airport has usually been a manual check by the security officer. However, that may not be the case anymore.

Helsinki Airport is currently trying out new Avatar security check technology, which might be replacing most manual checks.

Avatar protects privacy

The security check officer will direct the passenger to the Avatar scanner only if the metal detector’s alarm is set off. The scanner then uses low-frequency millimeter waves to create an avatar image that lets the officer know which part triggered the alarm. Thus, the security officer can check only that part manually.

The scanners help discover sharp objects and other contraband items.

For passenger privacy, it’s important that the scanner does not produce recognizable images of passengers, but generic, green avatar images. Nor does the scanner save the images or any information about passengers – all details are deleted after the security check.

Aiming for smoother, faster screening

The security scanners are currently in use in Helsinki Airport’s Terminal 2 as a pilot project. Implementing the new technology is meant to bring a smoother and faster security check procedure for airport passengers.

The security check in Terminal 2 also moved to electronic boarding pass readers in the spring of 2015. This means that passengers show their boarding passes to an automated E-gate, which lets them through to security. The E-gates are in use between 4 am and 9 pm every day.

Read about the most surprising items left at security check.

Read more about the security check.