The Transportation Security Administration may be testing new ways to get travelers through security checkpoints more quickly and efficiently by having them remove additional items from their carry-on bags, but the companies that make these devices have developed technology that could eventually save you from having to take out your laptop at the checkpoint or guzzle that bottle of water before you’re forced to throw it out.
Bloomberg reports that at least four companies that make machines used to screen bags at airports are working on new technology that would be able to better detect explosives and ease new security measures such the international laptop ban.
The machines, one of which has passed initial testing in the U.S., differ from the baggage scanners commonly used at airports in that it utilizes computed tomography — or CT — scan technology to create high-definition, three-dimensional views of luggage.
This technology can provide a clearer look into a bag, calculating the densities of objects. This, Bloomberg notes, can allow even small amounts of explosives to be uncovered. Similar machines are already at work in airports, used for the screening of checked luggage.
“CT technology has the potential to significantly improve security as well as the checkpoint experience for travelers,” TSA spokesman Michael England tells Bloomberg. “However, while this technology has shown promise, more testing is needed before it can be rolled out nationwide.”
To do that testing, TSA plans to place two machines at different airports this year to see how they function in actual security lines.
But even if the machines work, they likely won’t be showing up in your local airport anytime soon. With a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit, the government would have to spend billions of dollars to place the machines at all U.S. airports, Bloomberg reports.
Still, when the new machines are placed in airports, the manufacturers believe they will enable passengers to keep liquids and electronics inside bags. This would reduce the time spent in security lines as customers wouldn’t have to dig through belongings to remove the items for individual scans.
You may remember the bizarre tale of Vitaly Borker, the man who served three years in prison for trying to boost his Google search ranking by harassing his customers online. Federal prosecutors say he’s back at it, once again selling eyewear on the internet, and allegedly bullying customers who dare to ask for refunds.
According to the Justice Department, Borker has been running a site called OpticsFast.com, where he allegedly misrepresented the authenticity and quality of the glasses he sold.
Though the site advertised “brand new and 100% authentic” luxury eyewear and marketed itself as “the planet’s biggest online website for designer discount sunglasses and eyeglasses,” customers claim they frequently received damaged and counterfeit items, were refused refunds, charged unauthorized restocking fees, or never sent eyewear for which they had been charged.
Customers who complained or tried to return their purchases for a refund told U.S. Postal Inspection Service that they were allegedly harassed and bullied by Borker, who is accused of using an alias to send customers “abusive emails and text messages.”
He also “insulted customers, called them names, and threatened to refer disputed sales to debt collectors,” prosecutors say.
For example, according to the criminal complaint [PDF], one customer said she complained about receiving a pair of counterfeit, broken Ray-Bans from the site, only to be inundated by phone calls — 35 a day, claims the customer — and a “torrent” of emails that referred to her as a “stupid stupid lady” and a “total degenerate.”
After this customer convinced her bank to freeze the payment to the site, she received an email saying, “[it] could have been done another way but you choose this route… Now sit in what you made.”
She also received a phone call from someone purporting to be a police officer, who told her a “civil harassment suit” had been filed against her by OpticsFast.
Borker has been charged with mail and wire fraud in connection to the alleged scheme.
USPIS worked with prosecutors, and the agency sounds pretty pleased with itself.
“His cool shades couldn’t shield him from the bright light of law enforcement who illuminated his alleged illicit scheme,” said USPIS Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett. “He should have realized he could never outwit Postal Inspectors.”
(h/t The New York Times)