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China invents body scanner that can see through 30 layers of clothing


  • The device’s ultra-high resolution is achieved by combining many small antennas instead of using one large one
  • It could find applications at airports and borders, where China is already using high-resolution body scanners
Imaging capability was tested through different fabrics and thicknesses. Photo: Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics

Chinese scientists were testing a form of full-body scanner utilizing space radar technology on January 13. This scanner can see through numerous layers of covering with high quality, as per reports of the published news by South China Morning Post.

The scanner’s ultra-high resolution, according to the researchers, might let it identify concealed items with better precision at security checkpoints.

According to tests, when utilized near to a person, the scanner can clearly read the insignia on that person’s underpants.

The researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, led by Professor Liu Jin Song, put a thumb-sized piece of paper with the letter “S” below five different styles of clothes, which are created from a range of natural and synthetic textiles.

The aforementioned scanner developed a very distinct “S” picture on all five types of clothing — something that existing scanners are incapable of doing. The image faded considerably as the number of layers of cloth grew, but the researchers could still see through 30 layers.

The scanner, with a millimetre-level resolution, may “easily detect forbidden items such as weapons hidden under clothes,” according to Liu’s team in a report published on Monday in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal Optics and Optoelectronic Technology.

According to state media, certain high-resolution body scanners are already in operation at Chinese airports and border crossings.

In September, a security official at Beijing Capital International Airport informed Beijing Daily that the newly installed locally created gadgets provided more precise photographs than personnel had ever seen.

“For a traditional radar, the higher the resolution, the bigger the antenna. This is impractical in some situations,” Liu and his colleagues said in the paper.

Meanwhile, according to a customs officer at a large airport in southern China, pictures obtained by a full-body scanner are retained in a hard drive for a certain amount of time and are linked to a passenger’s identity and other personal information.

Protecting this data was critical for airport management because a leak might “develop into a public-relations disaster,” according to the official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the problem.

This article contains material from South China Morning Post.

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