TSA Seeks New Hand-Held Device to Reduce Passenger Pat-downs

It’s the part of security everyone hates: you grudgingly go through the body scanner only to be told an anomaly has been detected and now you must submit to a hands-on pat-down. Maybe not for too much longer, though.

Video: What a Pat-down is Really Like

Tech Companies Submit Plans for Pat-down Alternative

The Department of Homeland Security – which oversees the TSA – is currently seeking proposals from technology companies for an alternative: a hand-held device “focused on reducing the number of passenger pat-downs” required to resolve any anomalies.

Just How Secure are the Nation’s Airports?

What New Hand-Held Security Devices will Detect

Specifically, they are seeking a tool that will detect the presence of explosives or explosive devices utitlizing a broad range of formulations such as fuel/oxidizer mixtures, particulates, vapors, liquids and precursor compound – whether it be of military origin, home-made or anything else.

Here’s what else they’re looking for in this new pat-down alternative tool:

  • It should be able to detect threats both metal and explosive
  • It should be capable of screening all areas of the body without removing clothing (beyond coats)
  • It should weigh under 5 pounds
  • It should be a stand-alone device and not tethered to an power supply

Old and Young: TSA Finds Weapons in Toys and Walkers

Pat-down Alternative: Not This Year

Once proposals for these hand-held designs are accepted, it could be at least a year before such any model undergoes testing – and probably longer before these are introduced throughout the nation’s airports. Meanwhile, those selected for pat-downs should understand it’s not personal – former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has undergone the procedure – and while pat-downs can be refused, those who do refuse them will not be allowed to board their planes.


Published: May 30, 2012