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DHS S&T Pursues Development of Airport Shoe Scanner

Jeff Brody

The Department of Homeland Security is developing a millimeter wave technology designed to scan footwear for airport security. DHS' Science and Technology Directorate said Tuesday that it's pursuing this project as part of the Screening at Speed Program, an effort to boost security effectiveness and reduce waiting times for passengers. 

The department is looking to deter threats concealed within shoes, referencing a 2001 incident wherein a perpetrator hid explosives in his footwear during a flight to Miami. S&T worked with the Transportation Security Administration to identify different shoe types and determine design characteristics for the shoe scanner. 

“During the interviews with TSA employees, some asked if we can put the shoe scanner inside the full-body scanner or at the documents checkpoints where you show your passport and boarding pass,” said Kathleen Deloughery, a sociology expert at S&T. “It will probably be like a mat that you step on for about two to five seconds," Deloughery added.

DHS expects to complete a prototype scanner within the year for future testing.

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