3D scanners can ‘digitally unpack’ carry-ons and transform airport checkpoints with better, faster security

Technology used in the medical field for years may soon revolutionize screening of carry-on bags at airports — bolstering security while dramatically cutting bottlenecks at checkpoints — with an expansion of testing planned for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport early next year.

Computed-tomography (CT) machines being tested at airports in Phoenix and Boston allow Transportation Security Administration screeners to rotate a three-dimensional image of a suspicious object without opening up a bag, meaning travelers can whisk through faster without removing items such as laptops.

CT machines produce crisper images than standard X-rays and can automatically detect explosives by their density, which ease concerns about screeners missing suspicious items.

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