Is What’s in This Box the Secret to Your Safety?

By: | March 17th, 2014

The AI in the box can pick up threats like knives, handguns and even explosive vests. Photo © Manchester Metropolitan University

Meet MIRTLE. MIRTLE may not look like much but inside this box is a powerful security device that could change the way you’re kept safe in public.

Set to hit the market this spring, the device is a radar scanner developed by Manchester Metropolitan University and is designed to scan through crowds or public spaces to alert security personnel about the presence of weapons, bombs and other potentially dangerous devices.

MIRTLE is coded to recognize the difference between belt buckles, wallets, and other small items to prevent false alarms, but does not take any physical images of the individual it scans.

The new radar device utilizes low-power millimeter-waves that are sent toward a target or group of individuals. When the beam strikes the individual, it is reflected back toward the computer for interpretation on whether or not a threat is imminent.

Scientists are adamant that the device is not harmful in any way as it uses similar wavelengths emitted by mobile phones but at just 1/1000th the power.

MIRTLE comes in either a portable device or a permanent set-up; the portable version has an estimated range between 7-10 meters and the permanent option can detect threats upwards of 20-25 meters away.

If all goes well, MIRTLE could potentially replace full body scanners and metal detectors at airports and transit centers. These portable devices could also become useful at shopping centers and stadiums where security risks are always a concern among local authorities.

Research of the device has been going on since 2004, but scientists at MMU have stated that customers from around the world are already expressing significant interest obtaining the device as soon as it becomes commercially available.

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