The machine was recently installed and passengers will begin walking through it on Tuesday. By the end of September, a second machine another be installed at Terminal. One of the high-tech screening machines is already in use in the Bay Area, in San Jose. The machines are expected to eventually be used nationwide.
TSA officers operating the device sit in a separate room, isolated from the screening area. The separation of screening versus the viewing of images is in place for passenger privacy reasons.
The machines use "advanced imaging technology" to screen passengers for both metallic and non-metallic threats including weapons and explosives that could be concealed under a passenger's clothes. The Backscatter Imaging Technology projects low-level X-ray beams over the body, creating a reflection of it. Within a few seconds, the image pops up on a screen.
The TSA already has 157 units at 43 airports nationwide and says they are proving to be useful.
"We are highly confident in its detection capabilities. In fact, advanced imaging technology has led to the detection of over 70 prohibited, illegal, or dangerous items at checkpoints nationwide since January of this year," said TSA Director Fred Lau.
The TSA officers never make physical contact with passengers unless they find something suspicious on them and need to do a pat-down. The technology is reportedly safe. The amount of radiation from a Backscatter scan is equivalent to 2 minutes of flight on an airplane at altitude.
Really, the whole point is to stay on top and strengthen security because there are so many evolving threats to aviation security. About 450 units will eventually be in place around the country.