Tech Bytes

Jan. 8, 2005
Explorations in EDS
The Transportation Security Administration is constantly seeking to make air travel safer through innovations like explosives detection systems. In turn, there are manufacturers working to develop new technology or repurpose existing technology to meet the needs of the TSA. One such company is SureScan Corporation, based in Endicott, NY. Established in 2004, SureScan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Endicott Interconnect Technologies. Says marketing manager James Herard, "Our mission is to bring advanced homeland security technologies to the industry." According to Herard, "the fundamental technology of the SureScan 1000 was developed by Ensco Corporation and we licensed that technology from them. They brought the science to the table, we brought the manufacturing and bring to market side of the equation." The SureScan 1000, says Herard, is an explosives detection system for checked baggage, designed to be integrated into the airport baggage screening system. The "key" to this technology, he adds, is that it combines CT technology which focuses on density measurements with the advanced technology of effective atomic number. Explains Herard, "Most CT systems that are TSA-certified are predominantly estimating the density [of items inside checked luggage]. There are a lot of things that can have the same density. That drives a lot of false alarms, which then drives inefficiency in the baggage handling system." In addition to estimating density, the SureScan equipment estimates the atomic number. The machine measures the reduction in the energy x-ray spectrum, says Herard. Based on that, the machine runs a series of math equations to determine the atomic number of the items in the bag by the time the bag exits the machine. "Our goal is 1,000 bags per hour ' roughly twice what the systems are certified at today," says Herard. According to Herard, SureScan is in the planning stages of the TSA certification process. "We're working with them [TSA] to plan the initial data collection. We're hoping to go through the process in the first quarter."