The nation's airports took another step toward speeding up security screening lines through the use of new advanced scanners.
The Transportation Security Administration gave airports the green light this week to begin testing a new model of scanner that uses the same type of imaging technology used in hospitals. Instead of examining the internal organs of patients, the scanners will look into carry-on bags.
The new scanner approved by the TSA is manufactured by Analogic Corp. of Peabody, Mass. The ConneCT scanner creates a 3-D image of the contents of a bag through the use of computed tomography, a technology hospitals use to see the inner workings of a body.
It isn't the first airport scanner to use computed tomography, also known as CT.
Since June, American Airlines has been testing a CT scanner at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The scanner is built by L3 Technologies, a New York surveillance and communications firm.
American Airlines also plans to test Analogic's ConneCT scanners.
Analogic executives say CT technology can speed more passengers through security checkpoints because the scanner shows the contents of a bag as a 3-D image on a screen that security officers can spin 360 degrees to show the contents from every angle.
"Our system very user-friendly," said Mark Laustra, vice president for business development at Analogic. "You are able to see it and use it like you are using your iPad."
Plus, he said, the scanner uses an algorithm to automatically identify weapons in the bag.
Eventually, the new scanner could let passengers keep liquids and personal electronics inside carry-on bags as they go through the scanner, increasing the number of passengers screened per hour 500 from 180, Laustra said.