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San Diego State professor creates security screening avatar

Avatar could potentially screen airport travelers
Posted at 2:50 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 17:50:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A San Diego State professor has created a new kind of lie detector test.

It’s an avatar capable of asking people questions and interpreting body language. SDSU Professor Aaron Elkins has been working on the project for 10 years.   

He says his technology has been tested at the border in Nogales and the airport in Bucharest, Romania.

"What it should do is relieve the human effort of having to interview everyone," he said.  

The avatar is not meant to replace human screeners, but rather speed up the process. According to Elkins, the avatar would serve a sort of “triage” function, by identifying questionable travelers during primary screening. If the avatar flags someone, they would be sent to a human screener for more interrogation.

The machine is capable of reading identification and passports.  

And there are multiple sensors that can follow body language, eye movement and even detect heart rate.

The avatar –- which is housed in a kiosk -– can flash images on the screen and see how people react. In some of the testing, the avatar flashed an image of a bomb on the screen. Elkins says a terrorist with a bomb might look at the image differently than an innocent person would.  

He believes the avatar will not only make travel safer – but more convenient.  

"I think it’s going to improve quality of life… my hope is that you go through security faster, more seamlessly.”