The next generation of high-tech security scanners will use advanced radar, 3D imaging and AI to unobtrusively screen sports fans, and the people entering Rogers Arena could be early test subjects for one company’s bid to enter the field.
If all the pieces fall into place, Liberty Defense Technologies, a Vancouver-headquartered startup with an engineering lab in Atlanta, will have a prototype of what it’s calling HEXWAVE technology ready to beta test at Rogers.
Company CEO Bill Riker said engineers are aiming to have a prototype ready by the summer for initial testing in the lab, then beta-testing with security teams at venues, such as Rogers Arena, after that.
Canucks Sports and Entertainment owner Francesco Aquilini is an adviser to Liberty Defense and has signed a memorandum-of-understanding to use the arena as a test site, which the companies will be announcing April 15.
“What this does is it increases the velocity of people moving through gates,” Riker said. “It’s not intrusive and doesn’t have a big infrastructure.”
HEXWAVE scanners operate from pairs of 60-centimetre-by-two-metre panels that transmit and receive low-powered radar waves that generate images with high enough resolution to discern the difference between a benign object such as a cellphone or a threat such as a gun or a pipe bomb.
In HEXWAVE, the images are analyzed via artificial intelligence, which alert security when a threat is detected, and Riker said it will be able to do so in real time as people walk through, unlike existing scanners that require subjects to stop as a device sweeps around them and physical checks that are cumbersome and time-consuming.
“This would capture that (threat) and at the same time, you want that high throughput and positive customer experience,” Riker said.
Liberty Defense has licensed the HEXWAVE technology, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and raised US$12 million on its strategy to develop and deploy the device.
Vancouver financier and business executive David Sidoo was among the founders of Liberty Defense.
Sidoo, who was implicated in the U.S. college admissions fraud scandal, served as the company’s executive chairman until stepping down March 12 and is no longer involved with the company.
Liberty Defense isn’t alone in trying to develop high-tech, high speed scanners in a market that the company estimates will grow to $7.5 billion by 2025.
Wired Magazine reported last fall that Denver International Airport was testing scanners from the firm Rhode & Schwarz. Another U.S. company, Evolv Technology, installed scanners at the Oakland, Calif., airport for an employee security system.
“There are a lot of capable products out there, but it’s a huge market,” Riker said.
Security is a prime concern in the U.S. in particular, which Liberty Defense lays out with sobering statistics in its corporate presentation — more than 300 mass shootings per year since 2015, 426 in 2018 alone.
Systems such as HEXWAVE can demonstrate that venues are taking a proactive approach to prevention and offer “peace-of-mind” to patrons, Riker said.
Riker broke the market down to four main segments: stadiums, airports and large public facilities; secure locations such as corporate headquarters or campus facilities; terminals for bus and train stations; then lesser-risk locations such as hotels or schools.
“There are thousands of applications,” Riker said.
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