The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is trying to remake its -- or rather your -- image.
Starting today at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, the TSA was slated to begin testing new software for its advanced imaging technology machines that would replace detailed, passenger-specific images, curves and all, with one generic, identical outline of a person.
Similar tests at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport and Reagan Washington Airport are due to begin in several days.
As people pass through the scanner, the new software is designed to detect weapons or explosive materials, indicate where the person is concealing them, and display the body location on a monitor attached to the screening unit. As with the 500 imaging technology units being operated at 78 U.S. airports, the passenger would then require additional screening.
Unlike the current system, which has created substantial criticism from passengers and privacy advocates, the imaging units with the new software would not require TSA personnel to view the images at a remote location because the images would be generic and not personally revealing.
"We are always looking for new technology and procedures that will both enhance security while strengthening privacy protections," says John Pistole, TSA administrator. "Testing this new software will help us confirm test results that indicate it can provide the same high level of security as current advanced imaging technology units while further enhancing the privacy protections already in place."
The TSA says coding for the new software took place in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate and private industry.
Initial testing has been taking place since Fall 2010 at the TSA Systems Integration Facility.
The testing at the three airports is being done on millimeter wave advanced imaging technology units.
In the future, the testing will be expanded to include backscatter units, as well, the TSA says.
If successful, perhaps it will be curtains for the most problemmatic aspects of the naked scanners.