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Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away

Gizmodo  NAC

Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.

And without you knowing it.

The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors weresubcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded “in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress.” According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.

Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States. The official, stated goal of this arrangement is to be able to quickly identify explosives, dangerous chemicals, or bioweapons at a distance.

The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people.

Analyzing everything in real time

But the machine can sniff out a lot more than just explosives, chemicals and bioweapons. The company that invented it, Genia Photonics, says that its laser scanner technology is able to “penetrate clothing and many other organic materials and offers spectroscopic information, especially for materials that impact safety such as explosives and pharmacological substances.” [PDF]

Formed in Montreal in 2009 by PhDs with specialties in lasers and fiber optics, Genia Photonics has 30 patents on this technology, claiming incredible biomedical and industrial applications—from identifying individual cancer cells in a real-time scan of a patient, to detecting trace amounts of harmful chemicals in sensitive manufacturing processes.


Above: The Genia Photonics’ Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner is capable of detecting every tiny trace of any substance on your body, from specks of gunpowder to your adrenaline levels to a sugar-sized grain of cannabis to what you had for breakfast.


Meanwhile, In-Q-Tel states that “an important benefit of Genia Photonics’ implementation as compared to existing solutions is that the entire synchronized laser system is comprised in a single, robust and alignment-free unit that may be easily transported for use in many environments… This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence.” [PDF]

So not only can they scan everyone. They would be able to do it everywhere: the subway, a traffic light, sports events… everywhere.

How does it work?

The machine is a mobile, rack-mountable system. It fires a laser to provide molecular-level feedback at distances of up to 50 meters in just picoseconds. For all intents and purposes, that means instantly.

The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.

The technology is not new, it’s just millions times faster and more convenient than ever before. Back in 2008, a team at George Washington University developed a similar laser spectrometer using a different process. It could sense drug metabolites in urine in less than a second, trace amounts of explosive residue on a dollar bill, and even certain chemical changes happening in a plant leaf.

And the Russians also have a similar technology: announced last April, their “laser sensor can pick up on a single molecule in a million from up to 50 meters away.”

So if Genia Photonics’ claims pan out, this will be an incredible leap forward in terms of speed, portability, and convenience. One with staggering implications.

Observation without limits

There has so far been no discussion about the personal rights and privacy issues involved. Which “molecular tags” will they be scanning for? Who determines them? What are the threshold levels of this scanning? If you unknowingly stepped on the butt of someone’s joint and are carrying a sugar-sized grain of cannabis like that unfortunate traveler currently in jail in Dubai, will you be arrested?

And, since it’s extremely portable, will this technology extend beyone the airport or border crossings and into police cars, with officers looking for people on the street with increased levels of adrenaline in their system to detain in order to prevent potential violent outbursts? And will your car be scanned at stoplights for any trace amounts of suspicious substances? Would all this information be recorded anywhere?

Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet AwayAbove: A page from a Genia Photonics paper describing its ability to even penetrate through clothing.

There are a lot of questions with no answer yet, but it’s obvious that the potential level of personal invasion of this technology goes far beyond that of body scans, wiretaps, and GPS tracking.

The end of privacy coming soon

According to the undersecretary for science and technology of the Department of Homeland Security, this scanning technology will be ready within one to two years, which means you might start seeing them in airports as soon as 2013.

In other words, these portable, incredibly precise molecular-level scanning devices will be cascading lasers across your body as you walk from the bathroom to the soda machine at the airport and instantly reporting and storing a detailed breakdown of your person, in search of certain “molecular tags”.

Going well beyond eavesdropping, it seems quite possible that U.S. government plans on recording molecular data on travelers without their consent, or even knowledge that it’s possible—a scary thought. While the medical uses could revolutionize the way doctors diagnose illness, and any technology that could replace an aggressive pat-down is tempting, there’s a potential dark side to this implementation, and we need to shine some light on it before it’s implemented.

The author of this story is currently completing his PhD in renewable energy solutions, focusing on converting waste to energy in the urban environment. Even while most of this information is publicly available, he wanted to remain anonymous.

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15 Responses to Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away

  1. jon reid says:

    Yes but they can not help themselves, they will still want to grope us anyway. Also a question… Is there a laser scanner that may identify the single digit I.Q. of the TSA people? Or of an official who sold out his country?

  2. Sunfire says:

    No mention of the possible adverse affects of these lasers, that too should raise an eyebrow.

  3. diggerdan says:

    If this gadget can do all this then every PD should have one for a quick and easy drug testing gig for their LEO`s unless they are afraid of what it may find, and if so why should they use it on the public if they will not use it on their own !!!!!!! What goes around comes around, eh? what do ya`ll think about that?, LEO`s?

  4. Rafael Espericueta says:

    I wonder how many cases of cancer this “scanning” will cause? How many people will this end up killing?

  5. RobW says:

    Sounds like scary!, scary! BS. They just want to cow us, with these claims, so we get the idea we have no hope in resisting. They’re not nearly as capable as they present; and are incompetent with the technology they claim to possess. It’s a scam, brothers and sisters, and if we fall for it, we all go down. Be well, all, Rob

    • RobW says:

      The pictures remind me of my 70’s radar detector, without the big red warning light. They should put that on the device, to help alert the sleepy watchers.

  6. Brian Thiesen says:

    Um, RobW, they have this technology right on the side of your house, you carry it with you every day… but the main hub will be on the side of your house:

    • RobW says:

      Um Brian,
      Sure, I could be tracked, if I had a cellphone, it would be pretty boring, though, and would put a monitor to sleep. Smartmeters?; they only record when and how one uses electric power supplied by the grid. If they insisted on putting such a meter on my house, I’d go offline. Been offline before, because of power company stealing trees, and it would be no problem.
      IMHO, these promotions of total surveillance are a scare tactic, a propaganda tool. Be well, and thanks for your reply.

  7. Billy-Bob Garcia says:

    Real application is to enforce capital controls. Forget about taking currency or gold out of the country.

  8. Dave says:

    diggerdan you got it in one mate, lets see them turn it inwards first to prove it works and works safely. I suggest all law enforcement with the power of arrest and detainment, military personnel from recruit to JCS, and best of all every single government official and politician elected or otherwise. Get an independant body to select the scanning range so nothing is left out and the device searches for all trigger elements. I bet they would find some way of squirming out of that proposition. if it isn’t good enough for them, why should we stand for this, fight back. Oops I am a terrorist now according to the defence dept

  9. Dimi says:

    I also think this is total BS. If you look at the complexity of the cocaine molecule for instance.

    A picosecond is 10−12 of a second. That is one millionth of one millionth of a second. What kind of processor is housed in that little machine shown? We have 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in our bodies (21 zeros). It takes a 4.2G processor 54 million years only to count from 1 to that number!!

    On top of this, a laser is one dimensional, so it needs a receiver on the other side to collect possible information.

    In one word, this technology described is BS!

  10. Joe says:

    The basis of one form of jamming is to give the sensor a myriad of attractive targets. This causes the noise floor of the sensor to be set so high that meaningful detection is impossible. Thus in this case drug residue and harmless molecular quanities of things like nitromethane would be scattered onto all highways leading to the venues containing the sensors. If everyone is a suspect then no one is.

  11. NC says:

    I’m gonna have to side with RobW on this. What if this stuff doesn’t even really work and is there for show and to create more fearmongering and control by the elite? To have it possibly do all of this when the radiation baths don’t even work right? I don’t know. And when are the people going to bitch about things like this? Why do they insist on taking it? How can they begin to possibly feel comfortable or safe with this? This thing would give cancer to everyone it comes in contact with and would be the perfect way of depopulating the world for the elite if it truly worked while all maintaining the infamous interests of national security. How sweet. PSYCHOS!!!!

  12. Dr Tony Marshall says:

    What a load of bollocks. The “machines” are old and I mean late 1980’s Viglen type computers dressed up to look like what “The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.” SMALL: Christ all mighty you would need a JCB to move what is illustrated and oh yeah you forgot to remove the serial port.

    Your truly blah blah By the way if 7ft reptilian monsters run the world , don’t you think they know what 12 + 7 equals

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