I tried one of those GE machines at a security exhibition (priced at about a quarter of a million pounds!). Presumably the air jet blasts have been designed to forever replay the “Marilyn Monroe over a subway grating” scenario.
There is no reason to suppose that these machines are being calibrated or operated any better than the other drug and explosives testing machines which GE sell: False Positives for Drugs in the Welsh Assembly.
What happens to your characteristic “chemical aroma” signature data ? Is it stored and used as a “smell biometric” without your permission, or is it destroyed ?
The very concept of a smell biometric is something I've never considered before. I guess it works for dogs. Perhaps I'll get over it.
Following Watching's link takes you to a really nice page from the SpyBlog, and a very bizarre article about the whole sniffer technology by Gareth Morgan of the Western Mail in Wales. I'm guessing that AM's are representatives elected to the Welsh National Assembly:
‘ALMOST everybody in Wales will have hard drugs on their hands at some point today, according to a cutting-edge detection machine.
‘The problem has reached the point that bank notes, taps and door handles in pubs, nightclubs and even the offices of Wales have traces of class A narcotics.
‘It even infiltrates the National Assembly building in Cardiff Bay.
‘Depending on how cynical one might be about the behaviour of our fine upstanding political representatives, this may not seem the most obvious place to demonstrate the powers of the Ion Track Trace Detector Machine.
‘But AMs were yesterday shocked to discover readings of drugs like heroin and cocaine on their hands. Out of curiosity, they queued to volunteer themselves for trial using the machine with its stern beeping noises and complicated light-up screen. And there were a few raised eyebrows as the machine did its work.
‘Edwina Hart, social justice minister for Wales, tested positive for cannabis after her hands were swabbed using a special cloth.
‘She said, “You could pick it up anywhere, couldn't you?
‘”It could come out of cash, a cash-point, a beer mat, or anything else.
‘”It is a very sophisticated system that can pick up anything, if you have been in contact with someone's jacket or anything.”
‘Conservative AM William Graham organised the demonstration using the first machine introduced to Wales, which is owned by Gwent Police.
‘But even he was shocked to test positive for THC, the chemical found in cannabis. “Good gracious, where the dickens could I have got that from?” he asked.
‘Nick Bourne, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, was one of the AMs who tested negative.
‘He said, “May I pay tribute to the Ion Track system, despite the fact that both the Minister and William Graham tested positive.
‘”I was relieved that I didn't – but it is an excellent system nonetheless.”
‘With their pin stripe suits and attempts to cultivate a clean-cut image, politicians are hardly the stereotype of the drugs criminals that police regularly deal with.
‘PC Simon James, crime prevention officer, said that it showed there was no place to hide.
‘”The major use will be in nightclubs and drug dealers would be an idiot to come into a club with this machine in there.
‘”It is a deterrent and preventive measure really. In Gwent we have a hit-list of 10 pubs and can use this machine to do swabs on tables, chairs and narrow things down to improve our intelligence.
‘”It can be used to search houses. For example in some parts of the UK where there is a problem with crack cocaine they have swabbed microwaves and found traces.”
‘PC James denied that this machine casts suspicion on everybody, and that it is not subjective enough.
‘”The way we interpret the readings plays a big part, as does the way a person reacts if found with traces of drugs on their hands,” he said. “We can adjust the sensitivity and exclude certain drugs depending on how the machine is being used.”
‘Gwent Police had the first machine in Wales but recently two have been installed at Cardiff International Airport and South Wales Police also acquired a machine last week.
‘Despite his positive testing, Mr Graham said he supported the machine. He said, “Anything that deters people from taking drugs is a good thing. If people know this thing exists, then they know they might get caught.”
‘THE £40,000 Ion Track narcotics detection machine will be used in pubs, clubs, schools, workplaces and during roadside checks.
‘The machine is so sensitive it can detect the equivalent in drugs to a grain of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
‘It works even days after a person has handled drugs or explosives, and no matter how many times they wash, it can pick up traces.
‘A swab paper is wiped over the person's hands and then placed into a slot in the machine.
‘It analyses the swab for a range of drugs, from heroin and cocaine to cannabis and the sports- enhancement drug ephedrine.
‘The levels of contamination on that person's skin are also revealed by the machine, to help police determine how much contact with the substance has been made.
By the way, the price of the aweful and painful GE blaster contraption which I originally wrote about, inferior in every way to a competing product by Smiths, has dropped to a mere $120,000.00. It would be interesting to know how the issues described in the article above affect results.