Posted: May 5, 2014

New laser technology could eliminate ‘3-1-1’ rule
Airport security might meet a new reform if Insight100 is accepted in the U.S.

The days of the airport's 3-1-1 rule might be numbered. Whether you're a frequent flyer or take one vacation a year, you've encountered the policy while going through airport security, mandating that liquids may be no more than 3 ounces (technically 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters), and placed in a 1-quart-sized bag, one bag per passenger. Any containers larger than 3.4 ounces would have to be stored in checked luggage, tacking on an extra $25 or more to a traveler's budget. However, that might all change thanks to a new machine called the Insight100.

By incorporating the same technology that the pharmaceutical industry uses to scan medicines, the Insight100 can identify the chemical compositions of liquids carried in packaging, from plastic bags to mesh Dopp kits. The machine can pinpoint everything but metal containers.

Here's out it works: The device, made by Cobalt Light Systems in the U.K., flashes a laser beam at a container of liquid and cross-checks the information it receives against a library of liquids known to pose threats. 

"When combined with advanced algorithms to distinguish between the container and its contents, the technology is able to identify the chemical composition in seconds, and with greater reliability than any other existing system," Professor Pavel Matousek of the U.K.'s Science and Technology Facilities Council told Fox News.

The machine, which resembles a microwave, operates as a table-top device, where security guards open the machine's door to place liquids, powders and gels within sealed containers. According to the website, its detection capability is extremely high, and false alarm rates have typically been less than 0.5 percent. Usually, screening a bottle takes five to eight seconds, which might mean less time fussing with pouring shampoos and conditioners into small travel-sized containers. 

Since January, Insight100 has already been put to use in more than 65 airports across Europe, including Heathrow, one of the major international airports in London. It's also been used in government buildings and other passenger hubs. 

The technology is also up to win the U.K.'s prestigious engineering prize, the MacRobert Award, which is to be announced this summer. And its capabilities might span beyond airports. Cobalt Light Systems believes it might help with breast cancer screening and bone disease diagnosis. In the meantime, travelers should keep an eye out for more information from the Transportation Security Administration for updates on their liquid policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *