pearson airport 3d scanners

Toronto Pearson Airport to use high-tech AI-powered 3D scanners to spot weapons

The word 'vacation' gradually returns to the fold, and with it, travellers who don't abide by the law.

Pearson Airport security has to contend with some very real threats peppered in with the harmless Hawaiian shirt-wearing snowbirds and vacationing families seeking an escape from the cold, and it's not always easy to pick these threats out from the throngs of travellers cycling through Canada's busiest air travel hub.

Things are about to get a little bit easier, though, thanks to a long-delayed bit of security infrastructure that uses 3D radar imaging and artificial intelligence to pick out concealed weapons and other threats.

Known as Hexwave, the system has passengers pass through portals that can detect anomalies faster than traditional metal-detecting systems. The portals can spot metallic or non-metallic objects, and you don't even have to remove your keys, phone and wallet from your pockets — a regular source of bottlenecks in airport security lines.

This new addition wouldn't replace the cumbersome metal detectors and X-ray luggage scanners that travellers often grumble about, but they would provide another layer of defence and streamline security operations by flagging possible threats well before they reach the main security checkpoint.

And if having a 3D radar image of your person is worrying, Hexwave claims that it doesn't retain images and only displays people as a "standardized outline" to airport staff.

The system was confirmed back in 2019 with a plan to roll out the system in the spring of 2020. But, like everything else in the entire world planned for that timeframe, things didn't pan out as expected.

It's now planned to begin its trial period at the airport during the third quarter of 2022, making Pearson the first airport in the world to implement this walk-through security technology, an approach to threat-detection that Dwayne Macintosh, Director of Corporate Safety and Security for the GTAA, calls "proactive" and "innovative."

"The Hexwave is planned to act as an additional layer of security at airports, extending the perimeter of the screened area to include the entrance to the airport itself," said Bill Frain, CEO of Liberty Defense.

It may be a first for airports, but it's not Hexwave's first rodeo for large-capacity spaces, Liberty Defense having announced previous test installations at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as well as Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

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