In an effort to improve security against explosives without further disrupting the flow of foot traffic through an airport, researchers developed a boarding gate prototype capable of detecting minute quantities of explosives. The boarding gate, which will be on display at the Special Equipment Exhibition & Conference for Anti-Terrorism in Tokyo on Oct. 17, uses high-speed air currents to enable high-sensitivity to certain particles.

The technology, developed by Hitachi, the Nippon Signal and the University of Yamanashi, is expected to be used in places like stadiums, train stations and airports. Passengers simply walk through the device as they would a normal hallway and within one to two seconds, the presence of explosive compounds can be identified. Using this method, it is possible to inspect 1,200 passengers per hour, Phys.org reported.

The device also scans smart cards or portable devices while passengers walk through to ensure they are supposed to be there. Similar high-sensitivity mass-spectrometer technologies are being developed that can reportedly identify the presence of drugs, a change in mood or what a person ate for breakfast by scanning a few molecules from meters away.