Good Thinking

Radar used to detect concealed weapons in public spaces

Radar used to detect concealed...
Professor Kamal Sarabandi's technique could be used to provide extra security in a range of applications
Professor Kamal Sarabandi's technique could be used to provide extra security in a range of applications
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Professor Kamal Sarabandi's technique could be used to provide extra security in a range of applications
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Professor Kamal Sarabandi's technique could be used to provide extra security in a range of applications
Professor Sarabandi shows to the difference observed in the signal when a concealed weapon is present
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Professor Sarabandi shows to the difference observed in the signal when a concealed weapon is present

An electrical engineering professor at the University of Michigan believes that a type of radar, part developed by the Department of Defense, has the potential to be used as a means of detecting concealed weapons. Originally intended for military use, it is possible that the millimeter-wave radar system could be used to detect weapons across distances as large as a football field.

Professor Kamal Sarabandi was watching the aftermath of the Newtown shooting in Connecticut when he was hit by the notion that his work for the military may have a use a little closer to home.

The technology that he developed is currently being used in a number of applications, including collision avoidance systems in cars and in military targeting systems. The radar itself isn't particularly unique, but Sarabandi's pairing of the tech with Doppler radar signal processing allows it to pick out an individual in a crowd using a technique called polarimetry.

Doppler radar has a range of applications from speed traps to predicting the weather, using the Doppler effect to measure the speed of a given object. Sarabandi used motion capture techniques to identify the reflected signals from the limbs and torso of a human walking, creating what he calls “the DNA of walking.”

A computer is programmed to recognize the pattern, searching for a particular glare on the subjects chest, such that a hidden metal object might create. The technology focuses on the pedestrian's chest as it's both a common place that people hide weapons and acts as a fairly smooth backdrop, making it easier to pick out anomalies.

The polarimetric radar used by the team works by sending out a signal at a particular polarization, and carefully analyzing the polarization of the signal that bounces back. An irregular metal object can change the polarization of the signal, allowing for the detection of concealed items.

Professor Sarabandi shows to the difference observed in the signal when a concealed weapon is present
Professor Sarabandi shows to the difference observed in the signal when a concealed weapon is present

Though the technology has not yet undergone any human testing, Sarabandi's team has carried out a simulation using a mannequin painted with a coat that reflects radar-like human skin. The mannequin was placed on a turntable in an anechoic chamber, a room designed to absorb all echoes and reflections.

The techniques could be used to scan large groups of people, with each subject taking less than a second to process. This would then allow security personnel to closely observe the individual in question or even take suspects aside for more comprehensive scans.

The technology has significant potential to provide extra security in a wide range of applications, and while not entirely infallible, is significantly faster and less intrusive than the use of metal detectors.

One point worth noting is that while the technology appears to provide a fairly accurate means of locating hidden metal objects, it might be less effective at spotting some of the 3D printed weapons that are becoming more and more of a security issue as the technology continues to develop.

However, though the 3D printing of firearms is becoming more of a hot topic, it's currently only possible to print certain parts of the weapon, so there’ll still be some metal in there for detection.

Check out the video below for more on Kamal Sarabandi's new detection technique.

Source: University of Michigan

Weapons-detecting radars

24 comments
Ben O'Brien
I hope they do extensive research on the health effects of this and post it openly for all to see. I don't know what is more annoying, the potential for these things to give us cancer or how the hippies and conspiracy theorists react to it. Also fake studies can be seen from a mile away even when perfectly done. Though on the other hand no matter what pretty much all those hippies and conspiracy theorists will say it's fake.
Arahant
I think this could definately be a game changer as far detecting threats in public or even private area's before it happens. But i really worry about how intrusive this will be, i can just picture security personal picking out people at public events or places and taking them away to be scanned, and only a fraction of the time that person having anything dangerous on them. I know people on one side will say that catching that fraction makes it all worthwhile, and the other side will say its not. For me i think it depends entirely where and when its used.
Gary Richardson
As far as privacy goes, object recognition algorithms can be developed to automate the scanning of individuals.
Maxim Chanturiay
The problem stays. Guns aren't the only objects made of metal. Some clothes or boots contain it, as well. Though, the idea is awesome. The concept is simple and if it indeed takes seconds to analyse the data, there is a huge potential here.
christopher
"still be some metal" ... unless it's ceramic.
Vince Miller
Now if they can get rid of that pesky constitutional provision against illegal search!
BeWalt
If this works, it would take away the last "reason" gun proponents keep harping at people: "Anyone could be a bad guy carrying a gun, thus I must be free to have one ...blah blah". Picture this: Have these detectors at hidden locations, mobile units in trucks, under roadways or hidden behind a garden wall. So now every bad guy can be pulled out and have his gun taken away. Good guys get to keep theirs: they are legal after all. The bad guys will start carrying radar detectors, making themselves even more visible by suddenly making u-turns at spots where they detect radar. Sweet! So before you know it there will be zones that can safely be labeled "legal gun owners in here only", but: What if now the good guys are asked, too, to hand over their guns? After all, some public shootings were done with legal, registered guns carried by their rightful owners. And if there are no bad guys with guns, "good" guys (none of which has ever stopped any of these mass shootings, but let's ignore that a sec) don't need a gun any more, either. A nightmare for the NRA: Truly gun-free zones. No more reason for having any guns, at all. Not even a blunderbuss.
nutcase
Many modern firearms are not made of metal
Bill Bennett
and watch the glock walk thru whilst my 20 round 9mm baby desert eagle gets caught, me and the baby from IMI, 20 rounds into tactical popup target range in less than 30 seconds, all on perps, no innocents, ten events, no errors
David Tobin
How about Professor Kamal Sarabandi, his family and friends volunteering for a year long testing program with this thing giving them a dose of radiation at frequent intervals each and every day. Is this going to be used to detect criminals and terrorists with hidden guns or the public going about their business with a gun to give them the self-defence they reasonably wish for. How many people will die from cancers caused by the radiation this emits compared to people who dies as a result of gun crime? Mop-up all the propaganda your like telling you the low levels of radiation are not harmful - that's your prerogative - but I do not want to live in a world where I am unknowingly exposed to this dangerous pollution.