Dec 2010

Me and the "nude scanner"

Recently I found myself at Hamburg airport. At the security check they give a choice of going through the normal procedure or the voluntarily participate in a “nude scanner” test. Being a technologically affine person I choose the path to the latter. Assuming that this will be a “total recall” like experience I was very eager. However I had to learn that we are anything but close to “total recall”. Here’s the conversation which preceded the test:

me: “hi”
the security lady: “hi, do you have a laptop?”
me: “sure, and an iPad!”
she: “place it on the belt separately!”
me: “but should not the nude scanner do the magic?”
she: “nope”

so I take the stuff out of my briefcase and put it on the belt

she: “take off your jacket and the rain jacket”
me: “but should not the nude scanner...?”
she interrupts me: “just take it off PLEASE”

so I take off my jacket and rain jacket

she: “the belt too!”
me “but should....”
she interrupts me: “it disturbs the machine!”

I take off my belt

she: “and the watch!”
me: “excuse me?”
she: “it disturbs the machine!”

I take off my watch

she: “anything out of your pockets”
me (quietly) “#+*#!$%&&??/!&&!!!!!!!”

I take everything out of my pockets

finally I am allowed to pass through the “magic gate” and the gate beeps.....”what the hell does the thing find now?”, I thought by myself.

The guard on the other side of the scanner points to a display. And indeed, the image on the display showed two yellow markings, one at my neck and one in the right pocket of my trousers.

So he starts the usual patting and fiddling around with the beeping machine. And he finds the golden chain around my neck and BIG SURPRISE a zipper inside the right pocket of which I myself didn’t even know that it existed!

In the end the whole procedure took about twice as long as the normal security check!

My verdict is that the “nude scanner” technology is a solution in search for a problem and as long as they can not distinguish between a belt buckle, a watch and a gun they are not much more than an expensive and time consuming toy!

And they are definitely not a time saver!