A Major League Baseball stadium will be using computer vision to detect weapons as fans enter.

What’s new: A system called Hexwave will look for firearms, knives, and explosives carried by baseball fans who visit Camden Yards, home field of the Baltimore Orioles, The Baltimore Sun reported. The system will be tested during certain games in the coming baseball season.

How it works: Developed by MIT Lincoln Lab and licensed to Liberty Defense Holdings, a security firm, Hexwave scans passing bodies and alerts guards to potential threats even if they’re concealed by clothing or luggage. It can scan 1,000 people per hour.

  • The system scans visitors with microwaves, which penetrate a variety of materials, as they walk past an antenna array. It constructs a 3D image of the body in real time.
  • A machine learning model interprets the imagery. In addition to weapons, it recognizes benign objects like keys and coins so visitors don’t have to empty pockets and bags. If it recognizes a potential threat, the system alerts the security guard and outlines the threat on a display.
  • Liberty Defense Holdings plans to start selling Hexwave this year. The company previously tested the system at sporting arenas in Munich and Vancouver and a U.S. shopping mall chain.

Behind the news: A small but growing number of public venues implement AI solutions to enhance security and cut wait times.

  • A system from Omnilert was trained to recognize firearms in surveillance imagery using simulations from video game software, scenes from action movies, and videos of employees holding toy or real guns. A number of universities, retailers, and other workplaces use it.
  • Several U.S. airports use machine learning models to confirm traveler’s identities and reduce wait times as they board international flights and cross borders.

Why it matters: Traditional security checkpoints can be slow, intrusive, and ineffective. AI stands to make them not only more effective but also much more efficient.

We’re thinking: Neither Liberty Defense Holdings nor MIT Lincoln Lab provides independent validation of the system’s performance. In an era when the AI community is grappling with the technology’s potential for harm, it’s incumbent on companies that offer systems that evaluate individual behavior to demonstrate their products’ accuracy and fairness before putting them into widespread use.

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