The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has signed an agreement to test a device designed by a San Diego technology company that may cut security screening time for travelers with electronic devices.
The tabletop scanner made by One Resonance Sensors of San Diego is designed to use radio frequency waves to detect explosives hidden inside small electronic devices, such as cellular phones, electronic tablets and small laptop computers.
Pablo Prado, co-founder and chief executive of the company, said the federal agency will begin evaluating the security scanner in the next few weeks, primarily for use at the nation's airports.
Demand for such a scanner rose last summer in response to intelligence information that suggested terrorists may try to get explosives onto airplanes by hiding them in electronic devices, he said.
The scanner is designed to reduce airport screening time by eliminating the need for passengers to power up their electronic devices to show they are not decoys filled with explosives. Transportation Security Administration officers also swab the hands of passengers to detect traces of explosives.
Prado said his scanner, the Mobilab ES, can detect explosives on small electronic devices in about 10 seconds.
"You don't need to show that the device is working," he said.
One Resonance Sensors has already developed a device to analyze liquids in bottles for explosives and other hazards. It has been approved for use in European airports.