WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A new security checkpoint scanner at Westchester County Airport will offer enhanced security without embarrassing privacy intrusion, according to Transportation Security Administration officials.
On May 23, TSA officials introduced the new technology, known as automated target recognition, which detects metallic and nonmetallic items that could threaten airport security.
Equally as important, according to airport safety officials, is that the $150,000 device uses a "cookie cutter" image -- not an image of a passenger's actual body -- to demonstrate where a potential threat might be located, which should put passengers at ease that their privacy is being protected.
Lisa Farbstein, public affairs manager for the TSA, said the advanced imaging technology machine doesn't depict body parts on screen.
"It doesn't matter if you are 7 feet or 5-foot-2," she said. "It doesn't matter if you are male or female."
Inside the glass-enclosed device at the airport's main security checkpoint Wednesday, TSA employees demonstrated how the machine works by walking through it with items in their clothing.
When one TSA employee brought a container of Tic Tacs through the scanner, a generic image of a person popped up on a small viewing screen, with a yellow box outlined in red showing the candy container in a pocket. The device doesn't give a detailed image of exactly what the threat looks like, however.
A green screen indicates the machine did not detect a possible threat.
Dan Ronan, federal security director for the airport, said the machine bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off the body.
The millimeter wave technology, which is safe for all travelers and meets all national and international health and safety standards, emits 1,000 times less electromagnetic waves than international guidelines, according to TSA.
"It also reduces the need for pat-downs," Ronan said.
A passenger can elect to forgo the machine, but will then have to go through a pat-down search, he said.
The device can detect any array of threats, from weapons and explosives to other objects concealed under layers of clothing.
It will not detect a foreign object -- such as an artificial knee -- inside the human body, Ronan said.
"It looks for any type of anomaly between the skin and the clothes," he said. "We're very confident in this equipment's technology."
Romero Iral, assistant federal security director for the airport, said the equipment will help streamline the security checkpoint process.
"It makes our operation more efficient, and also more secure," he said.
TSA officers began their training on the new equipment earlier this month.
Though no passengers were passing through the machine May 23, the airport will use the machine full-time once enough TSA officers have the proper training.
There are now more than 670 AIT units at more than 170 airports nationwide.