Security checkpoints could do a full-body scan and check your skeleton against the bone structures of known terrorists in a few years. A new patent, issued on Friday, covers a system that would scan some, or all, of your skeleton and compare it with a database of skeletons. The database would also pull up data such as your name, address, social security number, and passport number. Worst of all, you might not even know your skeleton is being scanned from a distance.

The patented device uses "imaging radar," which bounces microwaves off your skeleton and obtains an image. The objective of the new system is to provide a fool-proof means of identifying people by their skeletons, which may be harder to spoof than fingerprints or other biometrics. The imaging system will be "compact and safe" for use on humans, the patent (#7317416) claims. Most of all, the system would provide "a means to identify individuals at a distance and/or without requiring direct contact."


Versatility is a big selling point of Leonard Flom and Ophir Almog's system:

The imaging radar may be at a security checkpoint (e.g., airport, secure facility, etc.). In other embodiments, the imaging radar is an active radar mounted on an aerial platform such as a satellite or an aircraft. The radar may also be mounted on a track and/or rail system (e.g., on the ground, a floor, and/or a roof) along which it can be moved rapidly.

The authorities could use the system to grant, or withhold, access to secure facilities. But they could also use it to scan for individuals who are on a "watch list" for terrorists or criminals, the patent says. It's not much of a leap to imagine how this system could be abused. Skeleton-scanners could soon be as ubiquitous as CCTV cameras already are in some urban areas... and you'd just better hope your skeleton doesn't throw up the wrong red flag by mistake. Skeleton scan image from AP photos. Other images from patent filing. [FreePatentsOnline]


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