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A Look at Things to Come

Almost every day I see releases about new technology being developed that could have an impact on our future security deployments.

A new forensic analysis technology that would seem more appropriate for the Cold War than the GWOT has been slated for evaluation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to analyze and print out the contents of single-strike carbon typewriter ribbons. Old technology? Not really says the company.

"The surprising continuing widespread use of single-strike carbon typewriter ribbons, from which typed text can be read directly, provides investigators with a potential source of evidence and information."

This new process displays everything on the ribbon and reduces the time for decrytping the tape from days to hours.

Another approach, currently being tested by the Human Factors Division is called Malintent, and is apparently being developed by the Department of Homeland Security. Malintent scans the people rather than their bags as they apss through security check points, using sensors to detect temperature, heart rate and respiration as passengers walk through an archway, searching for cues to predict whether a person intends to cause any harm to fellow passengers.

If you're rushed or stressed, you may send out signals of anxiety, but FAST isn't fooled. It's already good enough to tell the difference between a harried traveler and a terrorist. Even if you sweat heavily by nature, FAST won't mistake you for a baddie.

"If you focus on looking at the person, you don't have to worry about detecting the device itself," said Bob Burns, MALINTENT's project leader. And while there are devices out there that look at individual cues, a comprehensive screening device like this has never before been put together.

While FAST's batting average is classified, Undersecretary for Science and Technology Adm. Jay Cohen declared the experiment a "home run."

MALINTENT is part of a broader program coined FAST, or the "Future Attribute Screening Technology" that is designed to get passengers through security in two to four minutes, and often faster.

Still further away from utlization, but still interesting in its application is a company that just received a patent for a product that will send real time digital photos to law enforcement