We all know what travelling through an airport means: any liquid over 100mls being “politely” removed from your person and, if you're unlucky, a strip search. Well, the Department of Homeland Security is not content that this is enough. A new $20 million project called "Future Attribute Screening Technology" (FAST) will utilise the Balance Board to identify “fidgety” passengers, who could then be subjected to a more thorough screening process.
The concept arose due to research done by Homeland Security that suggests nervous individuals - or more importantly terrorists - tend to fidget. Project Manager Robert Burns told CNN:
"There has been a large field of research that ties your physical reactions to your mental state... We're looking for those signals that your body gives off naturally,"
Researchers are in the process of modifying the Balance Board in order to test what constitutes a nervous movement and, ultimately, a second search. However, Stephen Fienberg, Professor of Statistics and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, states:
"I haven't seen any research that shows that those measures from the autonomic nervous system ... measuring blood pressure, measuring breathing, measuring heat on the face, are at all related to intent,"
As such, it may be a while before your balancing skills are put to the test at your local airport. Still, what will the Department of Homeland of Security try next? The ‘Wii Vitality Sensor’ may just make an appearance next to its balancing buddy, and Nintendo could well be moving into the security sector.