ROLLA, Mo.–Researchers at Missouri S&T are developing technology that will make detecting potentially dangerous hidden objects easier. It’s called a 3-D microwave video camera. 

If someone is trying to hide a plastic 3-D printed gun on their person or in a bag, this technology would detect it and potentially prevent a dangerous situation.

“Recently, as you know there has been this issue of 3-D printed guns that now anybody can print at their homes and there is quite a bit of difficulty for normal technologies to detect it, be it at the airport or wherever. This technology actually allows you to scan over someone’s body if they have one hidden and get an image of it in real time,” says Dr. Reza Zoughi of Missouri S&T. 

For the past 20 years, Dr. Zoughi and other Missouri S&T staff members and students have been working to develop a real-time, portable, 3-D microwave video camera prototype. 

“The applications for the technology are almost limitless as long as you’re not looking into something metallic,” says Dr. Zoughi.

While airport scanners can detect plastic guns, Tayeb Ghasr-a Missouri S&T professor and researcher says the university is working on making the device portable to be used at places like concerts or a sporting event. 

“The core technology has been implemented, for example, at the airport screening, but those are much more expensive, bulky, the size of a refrigerator. We’re planning to make it real-time so they operate much faster similar to video camera at 30 frames per second and make it portable and small enough that it could be deployed at any place,” says Gashr. 

The portability would also make it convenient in detecting skin problems.

 “The goal is to make these imaging devices in such a way that they are small enough so that you can hover over in areas say burned skin. If you’re looking through dressing to see if your skin is healing properly or a graft is healing properly you can do that without removing the dressing,” says Dr. Zoughi. 

Eventually, the researchers want their technology to be accessible to anyone anywhere at an affordable price, but there’s no time frame yet on when that will happen.