Body-scanning technology: Important security device or invasion of privacy?

ATLANTA — Security officials around the world have been trying to find the best way to keep families safe after more than 300 people were killed in mass shootings and bombings between March and May 2019. Executives at Liberty Defense, an Atlanta-based company founded by former members of the U.S. military and graduates of Georgia Tech, think they may have found the answer.

The company is developing a device that uses radio waves to scan people in real time. The product, called Hexwave, then creates a 3D image of what's on top of a person's body. From there, it uses artificial intelligence to determine whether the person is carrying a gun, bomb or any other threatening object. If the system detects a threat, it alerts security personnel. That all happens in a fraction of a second.

"We are bringing a leading-edge technology into the market," said Bill Riker, the CEO of Liberty Defense and a former military official. "This was a real game changer. I wanted to be in the front end of this.”

Riker said Hexwave would be perfect for schools, secure government buildings and public sports venues.

But this technology brings up some privacy concerns. The device can be hidden behind walls, screening people without them knowing.


J. Parker Miller, an attorney for Beasley Allen who handles security cases, said Hexwave is a good option for venues on private property. But he said that using it on public property, such as airports or public universities, would bring up a different set of issues.

"It really comes down to, 'Do you have an expectation of privacy in the area that you're located in?'” Miller said. "It's probably a case-by-case situation."

Miller also said there could be an issue if Liberty Defense stored data or shared it with a third party.

Liberty Defense employees said the images collected by Hexwave would not be shared with any outside companies.

"The data and image being made is pretty much for the computer for training purposes and nothing else," said Aman Bhardwaj, the president and chief operating officer of the company.

And in response to health concerns, Bhardwaj said Hexwave uses a low-energy signal similar to Wi-Fi.

"The signal we're putting out there is 200 times less than the signal you're putting out at your home," he said.

An independent security expert told Channel 2 Actions News that this system would save lives.

"I think this particular technology is quite innovative, and it's going to be something that will solve a lot of problems," said Brent C. Brown, the CEO of Chesley Brown International.

Hexwave was still in alpha testing at the time of this report, but employees said the product could be in use by the end of 2020.