Andrew Cohen | Sporttechie | Source URL
In 2014, scientists at MIT began working to develop an artificial intelligence-powered security system. Atlanta-based company Liberty Defense licensed that technology, called Hexwave, and is now making it commercially available for sports stadiums and other venues.
Hexwave uses AI to search for potentially dangerous metallic and non-metallic objects. The system uses radar to scan an individual, then creates a digital 3D image from which it can determine whether the person is carrying a possible threat such as a weapon or a bottle of alcohol. The entire scanning and decision process takes less than 0.2 seconds, reducing the amount of time that is usually taken for fans to file through security scanners when entering sports stadiums. A passing fan might not even know they are under surveillance by Hexwave.
“With the artificial intelligence side of this, you’re really taking the human out of the loop,” said Bill Riker, CEO of Liberty Defense. “Because it’s the machine that’s doing the analysis, not somebody trying to interpret an image or whether something is a concern.”
Rogers Arena, home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, and Allianz Arena, F.C. Bayern Munich’s soccer stadium, will be among the first sporting venues to beta test Hexwave. Liberty Defense has also signed an agreement with the Utah Attorney General to integrate Hexwave into various public venues within the Beehive State. Beta testing will begin later this year and will run until early 2020, with Liberty Defense working with a venue’s security teams to see where in the stadium they might want to locate Hexwave. Liberty Defense hopes to fully launch by 2020.
If Hexwave detects a potentially hazardous material, the fan will be brought aside for closer inspection. Hexwave can be placed in both indoors and outdoors settings, with the detection range typically being from five to eight feet. The exact allowed range depends on local. In the U.S., the agency that determines that is the FCC.
An important note is that Hexwave does not have facial recognition ability, and the system does not store images. According to Riker, Hexwave also omits 200 times less energy than standard at home Wi-Fi.
“The tech is designed to be either overt or covert. You either know you are going through it, or can be hidden in kiosks, signs, or behind drywall,” Riker said.
The weapons detections systems market size is expected to reach over $7.5 billion by 2025, up from US$4.9 billion today, according to a 2018 report from the Homeland Security Research Corporation.
While this system aims to ensure guns or knives don’t enter venues, Riker expects Hexwave to mostly be used to detect a different, more moderate threat to stadium operators.
“A lot of venues don’t want people bringing in alcohol because they want to sell alcohol. This will prevent alcohol from entering,” he said.