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Entries in airport (10)

Thursday
Aug092012

Avatar Helps Guide Airport Travelers

New York's La Guardia Airport is employing a 3-D avatar named Marie to help guide travelers around the airport. Marie is activated when someone passes within 30 feet of her. She recites a 90-second script that answers frequently asked questions, such as where restrooms, taxi stands and food courts are located. 

The pilot program, which is intended to improve customer service, is also rolled out in JFK, Newark, Boston and Dulles airports. 

Tuesday
Apr172012

New TSA Scanner Speeds ID Process

The Credential Authentication Technology Boarding Pass Scanner accurately and efficiently identifies fraudulent identification documents at airport checkpoints. The process takes a few seconds. 
Wednesday
Jun222011

Texas Governor Revives Anti-TSA Bill

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going after TSA's screening procedures one more time. But if he wins, it's us passengers that might lose.

Perry is reviving a state bill that would criminalize intrusive pat-downs from TSA employees. The bill originally was killed during the legislature’s regular session because authorities worried that such a law would result in canceled flights.

The original bill would have made it illegal for TSA officials to touch a passenger’s "the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person," including through clothing, according to the Huffington Post. The legality of that type of search, Perry argues, should be under each state’s jurisdiction.

TSA maintains that its enhanced patdowns are necessary, especially in places like Texas, where most airports lack advanced screening technology.

John Murphy, a U.S. attorney in Texas, has pointed out to lawmakers that the bill may interfere with TSA’s ability to ensure traveler safety.

“TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew," he said.

I'm all for TSA accountability. But as a resident of the Dallas area, I'd prefer it if we kept Texas flights up and running.

Wednesday
Apr132011

TSA Inappropriately Pats Down Child? You Decide

Video surfaced of a female TSA agent patting down a 6-year-old girl, sparking outrage.

Although the video shows a polite TSA agent patting down the calm child's arms and legs, the portion of the video that people find troubling is when the agent ran her fingers along the waistband of child's pants and using the back of her hands to pat down the girl's bottom.

TSA released a statement saying the agent "followed the existing protocols," calling it a "modified" pat-down used for children under 12.

Watch the video and decide for youself on whether the TSA agent crossed the line.



Tuesday
Feb082011

Technology Checks for Wine Quality and Explosives

Air passengers one day may be able to carry their soaps, shampoo and bottled water onto the plane again, thanks to technology originally developed at UC Davis to check the quality of wine.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate recently awarded a contract to a Denver-based defense firm to develop a magnetic resonance scanner that could be placed in airports and used to check bottles and cans for explosives without opening them. A prototype of the machine will be constructed in the laboratory of Matthew Augustine, the UC Davis chemistry professor who invented and patented the technology, with an initial allocation of $800,000.

The technology is similar to the magnetic resonance imaging machines used in medical scanning. It employs a pulse of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to extract a signal that shows the chemical structure of the sample.

Augustine began experimenting with the technology some years ago to check bottles of wine for spoilage without opening them.

That technology was patented in 2002 and licensed by UC Davis to Madison Avenue Management Inc., which set up a subsidiary company, Winescanner Inc., to commercialize it.

After a thwarted 2006 plot in which terrorists planned to carry liquid explosives on board at least 10 transatlantic airliners, Augustine started looking into whether magnetic resonance could be used to identify more than bad wine.

"I'm a tinkerer, I like to build stuff," Augustine said.

Early tests showed that his wine-analysis technique could distinguish gasoline or other dangerous liquids from toothpaste or other innocuous ones.

But the challenge was to design a system suitable for use in airports: relatively small, easy and quick to use, and capable of scanning containers in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from lipsticks to water bottles.

Arriving at such a design involved careful trade-offs between high-frequency radio waves, which give the best information about chemical structures but are blocked by metal, and lower-frequency waves that could pass through a soda can.