DHS Laser Scanners Coming Soon…

A laser system that can measure the vibrational spectrum of the molecules on your body or the molecules of things you’ve come in contact with… and determine what they are? Sound like science fiction? Think again. The latest apparent ‘toy’ for the Department of Homeland Security, and coming to an airport near you… are laser scanners that will scan you (up to about 150 feet away), totally unknowing to you, and will be able to determine many things about your biology and/or the substances you’ve come in contact with.

The inventors of the technology, Genia Photonics Inc., have entered into a contractual arrangement with a company named In-Q-Tel, a strategic investment firm that delivers technology solutions to support the missions of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The technology is being developed for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), an IQT customer agency.

Genia Photonics has what you call a ‘Picosecond Programmable Laser’, and “is the best solution for applications in the biomedical, industrial and defense and security communities due to its versatility and its multifunctionality,” said Dr. Alain Villeneuve, Chief Technical Officer of Genia Photonics. “This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence.”


The machine can analyze everything in real time and can sniff out a lot more than just explosives, chemicals and bioweapons. A copy of a technical bulletin obtained from Genia Photonics and reported by, says that its laser scanner technology is able to “penetrate clothing and many other organic materials and offers spectroscopic information, especially for materials that impact safety such as explosives and pharmacological substances.”

Gizmodo goes on to report that the Genia Photonics’ Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner is capable of detecting every tiny trace of any substance on your body, from specks of gunpowder to trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to adrenaline levels to a sugar-sized grain of cannabis to what you had for breakfast…

The unit is small, portable, attached to a computer running real-time, and can scan ‘everyone’ in its path. They would be able to do it everywhere: airports, border crossings, the subway, a traffic light, sports events… everywhere.

A question is, which molecular ‘signatures’ will they be scanning for? and who decides them? What are the privacy implications of such a device? Will the molecular ‘signatures’ on your body be added to your NSA dossier? It seems that the U.S. government is planning to scan your molecular profile without your consent, and they plan to implement the technology between end of 2012 or during 2013. Got a problem with that?

Another nail in the coffin to privacy in America. Thank you DHS. Goodbye sweet America…


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  1. Ken, I think that for what its worth, I would rather one of these at the gates than the swab style explosive / drug scanners we have here in Aussie Airports.

    I think that if your innocent, that this wouldnt affect 99.9% of the population. I am unaware of the security measures of your Airports but have herd enough about the TSA lol…

    It seems that America is fixated on technology… A quote from ‘Ghost in the shell’ (MANGA) “Major Motoko Kusanagi: If we all reacted the same way, we’d be predictable, and there’s always more than one way to view a situation. What’s true for the group is also true for the individual. It’s simple: Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It’s slow death.”

    P.s. I dont agree with Anti Sniper systems – takes away the true art form of Snipers…

    1. The abuse of power is the real issue. God knows what powder or chemical can be pushed on to you with out you even knowing it…then you spend hrs in a cell answering questions, strip searched. all because a laser sniffer does not like your smell.
      might as well make everyone walk around every where naked, or just close all the borders, who needs travel?
      Stop with thinking we are safer because you can tell what we had for breakfast….

      1. Yeh understandable, if you had cordite bracelets or powdered C4 as shoe filler it would be a certain benefit to air travel safety, however in a large area it would be beneficial to eradicating those that are in the business of harm.

        I know there are Radio isotope sniffers and the like for dirty bombs, however whats the harm of another potentially mass life saving device? You remember Pan Am flights that randomly fell out of the sky – I’d feel safer that some git got scanned like myself before boarding a flight; wouldnt you? The world has gone so ‘ga ga’ over the last few years since 9/11 I think the more crazy people we throw in the clink the better for having banned substances on them. What do so many people have to hide in the US? What’s the problem with being scanned?

        The whole thing about invasion of privacy etc also abides to terrorists and their rights to withhold their intentions – so whatever can be developed to reduce these acts would be within means – once you start going into mind reading for security then you’ve passed the point of no return…

        1. It’s about the right to privacy, liberty, freedom, due process, and innocent until proven guilty. Some people however are perfectly willing to live in a ‘police state’ and let their government probe them, snoop on them, read their email, listen to their phone calls, feel them up (and down), scan them, irradiate them, track them, etc., while others believe this is going way too far.

          Regarding airport security, we simply need to PROFILE. Most ‘thinking’ people know who the terrorist types are. It’s not politically correct to say (which is what got us into this mess), but it’s the truth. The main stream media has brainwashed and frightened the majority of the Sheeple here in the U.S. over the word ‘terrorist’, that the Sheeple will allow their government to do almost anything (to them), including giving up freedoms, in order to keep them ‘safe’.

        2. 4th amendment and the 5th amendment! Enough said! We either have rights or we don’t can’t have it both ways!!

        3. It’s also about the right to not have more potentially damaging radiation zapping through all my brain and body cells in the name of “safety”. That’s an added health risk. Do we even know what it will do to a developing fetus or any of the rest of us to be exposed to this on a regular basis? Do you want to volunteer your body and unborn progeny as an unpaid lab-rat?

          Not all of us do. And with this scanner, you don’t even have the opt-out/TSA massage option. They pummel your body with radiation and you don’t even get to know you’ve been hit.

  2. I call bullsh*t on this. If this capability existed the military would using it to see IEDs and there would be no more of that kind of thing. Plus a million other applications that would cause them to keep this kind of tech secret. This sounds like Star Trek level tech. Law enforcement would be driving around scanning houses, the border control would be scanning at entry points to the US for drugs. I tried to find out more, but all the super amazing claims seem to come just from the Gizmodo article. The company that makes this has very little detail on it’s website, nothing that you would expect from a breakthrough of this caliber.

    1. @Jerry, Could that be because it is ‘apparently’ a new technology coupled with the fact that they are in contract with the intelligence community of the U.S. government?

      1. Anything is possible, but I can’t help but notice the one and only source of this is an anonymously authored Gizmodo story. Something this big would be dominating the mainstream news media, or the complete opposite would be happening: something this great would be deployed in total secrecy, and not likely to be ‘outed’ by Gizmodo. I think the specs and capabilities are being hyped by 1000 percent. I think there’s probably a kernel of truth, but it’s probably a lot less interesting and groundbreaking as the story being floated around. I follow a lot of the ‘breaking new tech’ stories and 99.9% percent of them turn out to be something from a lab experiment that never pans out into real world applications.

        1. I’m with you Jerry. Too many times a tech company looking to get financing plants articles about how great their stuff is. Same with someone looking to move stock and any number of other reasons (the Investor Relations section of their site simply says Coming Soon, come on you couldn’t even update the cut and paste section of your web site, really?). You give valid real world applications that make a hundred times more sense than sticking them at an airport. We have all but admitted we can’t scan all the cargo that comes into the US. First person blinded by being shot by this laser gets on heck of a lawsuit (exactly why you DON’T randomly point lasers at people).

    2. I agree to a point, where I read up on anti sniper systems that are litterally bolted to buildings and eliminate enemy snipers within .00000 something of a second after they shoot…

      If there is something that America needs – someone will make it, but at a price!

  3. I’m wondering if there are health concerns. Last thing I want down the road are vision problems from having a laser pointed in my eyes on a weekly basis!

  4. I guess we’ll all see ‘down the road’ a bit whether or not it comes to pass. Just felt like reporting it… especially being another apparent ding in our rights to privacy.

    I’m a bit surprised by your remark of ‘deceptive’, or perhaps you were referring to Gizmodo, or Genia Photonics Inc., or In-Q-Tel?

    Regarding the inverse square law, when it comes to lasers and light, I think we’re dealing with a different thing. Adjusting for 50 meters seems nearly trivial (we can scan the heavens with telescopes of all sorts, and we’re talking much tighter control of distances there for example…)

    By the way, I do have technical education and a previous 20 year career in engineering and product management. I don’t believe that the article stated that the system pictured was ‘all there is’. In fact, I have no idea if that’s all there is (I would imagine that a company in contract with DHS may choose not to reveal all to the public). The image that I displayed seems to be a common one among the various other sites reporting on it, including from the Genia Photonics site itself.

    When it comes to ‘scanning everything’, I would say it’s a matter of tuning, and a matter of how quickly the parameters can be changed via the interaction between the computers and the laser device itself. Computers can go ‘pretty quick’ these days.

    I don’t think this apparent molecular laser scanning system can relate to an MRI due to it being an entirely different technology. Just my opinion.

  5. In my previous career, we did some experimental work with lasers for a particular project, albeit low power. They are not as expensive as you may think (for low power), and can be surprisingly small. I also have a buddy of mine who works specifically in the laser industry making VERY high power lasers for cutting thick steel, and yes they are VERY expensive (very high power).

    1. On the Genia site it states that these are 100mw lasers. Very cheap, especially if sourcing them from China.

  6. @Ken: No need to defend your posting of this, vigilance and discussion on these matters is always a good thing. Keep up the good work!

  7. What nobody seems to grasp is this…

    If it can determine everything happening in your body, and it works on the body similar to infrared: It can be used to determine whether your brain is carrying blood that is oxygenated/deoxygenated and releasing or drawing up nutrients.

    Now, you’ll ask: Why is this bad?  Because this is how fMRI’s can conduct brain-scans and they have been doing work on being able to better gauge people’s intentions, what image a person is looking at, what music they were listening to.  

    In essence, this is remote brain-scanning technology.

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