December 2, 2022

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, is being used to help protect places from sports fields to churches and schools. The technology is used to scan weapons, including guns, knives and explosives, as people walk between the standing panels. Security personnel on standby are alerted if a weapon is found.

Since the system went live in 2019, Massachusetts-based Evolv has used the technology to scan some 300 million people across the country, second only to the TSA.

“Think of walking straight into a venue, a school, a building, rather than striding,” Evolv CEO Peter George said, touting the technology as far less compelling than traditional metal detectors. “If you don’t have a weapon on you, you can just walk in. If you have one, we can identify it.”

Passengers head to a security checkpoint at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.
(Reuters file photo)

Evolv’s technology is being used in major sports venues, city hospitals, schools, courts and large casinos.

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“It’s a free-flowing, non-contact weapons screening system,” explains Steve Morandi, Evolv’s VP of Product Management. “It’s really combined with artificial intelligence, advanced sensors and cameras in a really integrated way. We’re basically detecting weapons and everyday metal objects that we all carry.”

Bay State’s Liberty Defense combines AI technology with 3D imaging to hunt for non-metallic threats such as powder, tube bombs, or ghost guns made of plastic.

Passengers line up through the northern security checkpoint at the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

Passengers line up through the northern security checkpoint at the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“We’re looking for any kind of anomaly, any kind of threat that could be hidden,” explained Liberty Defense CEO Bill Frain. “So, whether it’s a gun, a knife, or plastic explosives, there’s the potential for damage, maybe even drugs or liquids.”

The new HEXWAVE system will be tested this summer at a Hindu temple near Atlanta, the University of Wisconsin and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The proliferation of artificial intelligence technology in the security field has alarmed critics.

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Security check

“What we don’t want to see is America becoming a checkpoint society where every time we go to any public gathering in church or elsewhere, or any place of worship or small league or what have you, we get searched,” ACLU said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

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Regarding privacy, Frain noted, “We don’t store any data. We don’t store any images.”

“We’re using artificial intelligence to differentiate between cell phones and guns, but we’re not actually looking at people at all. We’re just looking for weapons,” George said.

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