screening technologyThe Condylura Cristata (commonly known as the star nosed mole) is a species of mole whose claim to fame is the weird looking multi sensors on its nose. These extremely sensitive nasal tentacles allow it to decode sensory information at the speed of neurons. This mole’s super sensory ability was the inspiration for the name of a new and unique screening technology that debuted this year and is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2014.

The Qylatron is a self service security screening kiosk (see picture below) that does three unique things: it allows people to conduct their own screening of bags and possessions, independent of intervention from security officers. This makes screening go faster and what’s more, the system requires less personnel than conventional screening methods. Secondly, it employs multiple technologies that together discern whether a physical threat is present. Last but certainly not least, the machine learns. According to the company websiteQylatron Machine, the “sensor fusion uses a hybrid of artificial intelligence methods and expert knowledge algorithms to achieve results that far exceed standard security screening systems, at considerably lower personnel and operational expense.” The claim is that the machine looks at 200 different parameters using what I assume is a combination of x-ray, chemical sensors and other sniffing technologies. Because the system is meant to be regularly serviced and upgraded (a smart business model) it can stay ahead of the game in terms of current and predicted, viable threats and in that way, be proactive.

The Qylatron machine has been tested in multiple markets for various scenarios: at an airport in Rio de Janeiro, at Lincoln Center in New York City, and at Liberty State Park across from the Statue of Liberty. The company has gotten a Support Anti-Terrorist by Fostering Technologies (SAFETY) Act designation from the DHS, and has completed detection validation by ICTS.

It sounds almost too good to be true… Is this a panacea for the hassle and questionable effectiveness of our current screening systems? Is it a business venture that leverages our fear of the threat and our frustration about security? What do you think?


  1. Roki Horr on November 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Quick story- when my wife and I bought a condo, we established a flower garden next to our walkway. Much work was necessary to get our “zen” garden finished, weeks of lugging soil, money to purchase plantings, daily weeding, mulching, etc- basically everything that goes in to creating a personal “Garden of Eden”. The condo has a second story porch overlooking this garden, and one day I noted multiple furrows throughout the garden beds, as well as plants fallen over. After close examination, I discovered the culprit that seemed intent on decimating our garden was a mole. I set out to find a method to eliminate this pest, and wondered why in the heck he would choose MY garden to play in. For weeks this continued, and the plants we spent hard earned dollars on kept being chewed at the root until they died.

    One morning I happened to be out on the porch early, just light enough to see, and there in my garden, crawling in the open was a mole! I ran down the flights of stairs and literally right up to the mole before he tried to get into one of the many, by this time, furrows he had created in my garden bed. I placed my foot on it and there it was- a Condylura cristata! Now if you have ever seen one of these things up close and personal, I will tell you they are disgustingly scary looking- in fact, it looks like a bunch of worms crawling outward thru the skin of it’s face, and these rather large digging claws. Not something I really wanted to touch barehanded,and as I did not consider it something I might eat, wasn’t going to kill it. I bent down, had a very stern conversation with “it” about my garden, the sweat, blood and tears we put into it, insisted it find another place to go, and then gave it a good kick down over the banking leading up to my garden. From then on, we never had another star faced mole in my garden. We have had other creatures- chipmunks, voles, deer, skunks, coyotes, etc, but they really were just passing through, not trying to make the place a home and certainly not causing destruction to our garden…

    Point is, I actually was able to catch a Condylura cristata with my bare hands- well, slippered foot actually- but caught him off guard nonetheless. While I am a supporter of engineering out as much human interaction as possible, just as I caught this mole in spite of it’s super sensory capability, I am sure this machine will be compromised as well. Even the self checkout in many stores have human oversight, and I am certain the Qylatron will never be a replacement for all human involvement. I would suggest those folks providing the human element be highly training in other methods of detection such as behavioral and “sixth sense” suspicion….just in case….

  2. Victor Vogel on November 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I find this interesting, but I think we are still behind the 8 ball. No matter what technology we develop, there appears to be someone that will be able to overcome the technology. For example, you put a multitude of screening devices in place then terrorist simply go somewhere else. So, we may be safe flying, but our drinking water might get contaminated, or subways maybe attacked.

    The one thing you can’t alter is your behavior. It is not the bomb, gun, poison, or incendiary that is the issue but the person. All these items are in fact inert, unless a person sets them off or places them to be set off. I think the Israeli security forces have a better solution, in the multi-layered approach to security and assessing people verses objects. Then of course you have the world screaming privacy. Then when the next large attack happens they want to know why we didn’t predict it. In America we just don’t have a protection mentality. I am afraid over time we will be forced to go there.

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