Missouri University of Science and Technology have recently developed an automated screening kiosk by having concerns about safety and wait time at U.S. airports and border crossings. This next-generation automated screening kiosk uses an algorithm of ‘yes or no’ questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar. In this way, it quickly and efficiently.

This next-generation automated screening kiosk uses an algorithm of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar. In this way, it quickly and efficiently assesses the potential threats passengers may pose to others.

Dr. Nathan Twyman, assistant professor of business and information technology at Missouri S&T said, “The assessment’s speed and success rate are better than security at most airports in the United States.”

“Typically, when travelers enter the United States on an international flight, they must go through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) area where a CBP officer screens them. Depending on their answers, the officer might ask them one question, or a handful of questions. The process can be alarmingly subjective.”

This automated screening kiosk eliminates this subjectivity. It asks a series of basic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions and measures the user’s responses through a variety of techniques. There is also an infrared camera integrated with it that scans a subject’s eye movement and pupil dilation. Its video camera captures natural reactions to feeling threatened, such as body and facial rigidity; and a microphone records vocal data, listening for changes in pitch that accompany uncertainty.

Automated Screening Kiosk Could Alleviate Travel, Border Woes
A mock-up of Dr. Nathan Twyman’s automated screening kiosk. Credit: Mark Williams/Missouri S&T

Twyman said, “The system measures various psychophysiological responses and tries to make some sort of a risk assessment outcome. It’s an automated risk assessment, instead of a seat-of-your-pants risk assessment.”

“There’s a controlled, structured process for it. It gives (CBP officers) some more hope that they can pick out who they need to pick out instead of patting down grandma at the airport.”

When users approach the kiosk, it shows a computer-generated image of a young man with black hair. The machine then ask questions such as, “Have you ever been arrested?” and “Have you moved in the past five years?” When the avatar is done with its questions, the machine reports its findings question-by-question to the CBP officers or border patrol agents on duty.

When the avatar is done with its questions, the machine reports its findings question-by-question to the CBP officers or border patrol agents on duty. If any risk is determined, the machine shows it on a color-coded basis. Green means low risk, Yellow means moderate risk and Red being of high risk.

Twyman said, “I made the kiosk as scientifically controlled as possible. The avatar doesn’t care if it’s your friend or not. It isn’t interested in asking you how your day went and trying to pretend that it’s human. This doesn’t pretend that it’s human.”

“It follows the most scientifically accepted approach to human risk assessment. It gives you a really solid baseline to work with. When someone’s telling you the truth, compare that to when they’re lying. Without that baseline, it’s hard to really gauge people. For the kiosk, that baseline is very important.”

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