Courtesy Mike Wood PhotographyIf we ultimately end up winning the war against terrorism, we may have lobsters to thank.
Homeland Security is working with technology researchers in adapting the way that lobster eyes work into creating a new X-ray device to be used in airports, border crossings and other high risks areas.
Lobster eyes work much differently than most animal eyes. They’ve evolved to be able to see through the murky, cloudy water at the bottom of the ocean. To do that, lobster eyes are made up of thousands of tiny square channels on the end of small antennae. They gather light be reflection rather than refraction, or the bending of light, like our own eyes do.
For this new X-ray technology, scanners will use a similar geometric pattern to gather X-ray images. While not generating anything like a high definition image, the X-rays will be strong enough to see through walls, steel or other barriers to detect the shape or form of the items on the other side. It’s called LEXID (Lobster Eye X-ray Imaging Device).
Those images should be good enough for screeners to be able to see if there’s something unusual on the other side of the barrier, something that should be given close inspection. For instance, a LEXID scan could show a person hiding inside of a container, parts for making a bomb inside a suitcase or unusual cargo inside of a shipping container.
So far, about $1 million has been invested in developing the technology and developers hope to have it ready for use within a year.
Beyond national security concerns, developers of the technology think that it might prove useful in other fields like pest control, where exterminators could use it to look for varmints hiding inside of walls.