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Title:
SECURITY CHECKPOINT SCREENING SYSTEM AND RELATED METHODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/023190
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method and associated system for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint are provided. The checkpoint includes a scanning area, a pre-scan area one or more post-scan areas and a conveyor system. The system allows items belonging to a same person to be jointly considered when assigning clearance statuses to the respective items. The items may include one or more trays holding belongings of the person and/or one or more articles that are placed directly on the conveyor system. Data derived by screening the two of more items is received and used to assign to each item a respective clearance status. The assigned clearance statuses are derived by processing item specific threat assessment results and threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items so that the clearance statuses may take into account different items belonging to a same person. The assigned clearance statuses may be used in different ways by the system, for example to generate signals for causing the conveyor system to direct items to specific post-scan areas and/or to selectively trigger an alarm module.

Inventors:
MORIN, Regis (6096 rue du Clocher, Quebec, Québec G3E 1G9, G3E 1G9, CA)
AUDET, Erick (1124 avenue de la Chatellenie, Quebec, Québec G1S 3V5, G1S 3V5, CA)
BARRIERE, Paul-Andre (8755 boulevard Mathieu, Quebec, Québec G1G 3M6, G1G 3M6, CA)
Application Number:
CA2016/051212
Publication Date:
February 08, 2018
Filing Date:
October 19, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
OPTOSECURITY INC. (1280 Boulevard Lebourgneuf, Bureau 420Quebec, Québec G2K 0H1, G2K 0H1, CA)
International Classes:
G01N37/00; B07C5/342; G01N23/00; G06Q50/26
Foreign References:
EP3040741A12016-07-06
US20050248450A12005-11-10
US20070132580A12007-06-14
US20070280502A12007-12-06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMART & BIGGAR (1000 De La Gauchetière Street West, Suite 3300Montréal, Québec H3B 4W5, H3B 4W5, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A method for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas, said method comprising:

a) in the pre-scanning area:

detecting a person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

creating a grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, wherein the grouping of items includes two or more items;

b) using a conveyor system to carry the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area to derive data associated with the items in the grouping of items;

c) using the derived data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items , wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

item specific threat assessment results; and

threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

d) in the switching area, using assigned clearance statuses to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

2. A method as defined in claim 1 , wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

(1 ) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened;

(2) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening. A method as defined in claim 2, wherein the grouping of items is a grouping of trays and wherein each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes:

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results;

deriving threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the adjusted item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item.

A method as defined in claim 4, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

A method as defined in claim 4, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes marking the specific item for further inspection irrespective of the item specific threat assessment results if at least one other item in the grouping of items was marked for further inspection.

A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes: receiving information conveying the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items, wherein the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items were derived at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

- processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results, wherein the processing of the data associated with the specific item is selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items at least in part by processing the derived item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item.

8. A method as defined in claim 7, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively modifying a sensitively level of an automated threat detection engine used to process the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

9. A method as defined in claim 7, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

10. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein items in the grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint are assigned respective clearance statuses so that all items in the grouping of items belonging to the person are directed to a same one of said at least two post-scan areas.

1 1 . A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein the items in said grouping of items have respective computer readable tags associated therewith and conveying item identification information, wherein creating the grouping of items including the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes: a) obtaining item identification information from the computer readable tags associated to the two or more items;

b) assigning the two more items to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint at least in part by using the item identification information obtained from computer readable tags associated to the two or more items.

12. A method as defined in claim 1 , wherein the grouping of items including two or more items is a grouping of trays including two or more trays and wherein each tray in the grouping of trays is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened, said method further comprising providing a plurality of trays at the security checkpoint, the trays having respective computer readable tags associated therewith conveying identification information, wherein creating the grouping of trays including the two or more trays assigned to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes:

a) obtaining identification information from computer readable tags associated to the two or more trays;

b) assigning the two more trays to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint at least in part by using the identification information obtained from computer readable tags associated to the two or more trays. 13. A method as defined in either one of claims 11 and 12, wherein the computer readable tags include one of bar code information and QR code information and wherein the reader module is a reader configured to scan the one of bar code information and the QR code information.

14. A method as defined in either one of claims 11 and 12, wherein the computer readable tags include RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) information and wherein obtaining the identification information from the computer readable tags includes using an RFID reader to scan the RFID information.

15. A method as defined in either one of claims 11 and 12, wherein the computer readable tags include Near Field Communication (NFC) memory devices and wherein obtaining the identification information from the computer readable tags includes using an NFC enabled device.

16. A method as defined in any of claims 1 1 to 15, wherein creating the grouping of items including the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint is performed in absence of personal information associated with the person.

17. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 16, wherein detecting the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint including receiving a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint.

18. A method as defined in claim 17, wherein the signal conveying the new arrival is generated using a hand held device operated by a screening agent. 19. A method as defined in claim 17, wherein the signal conveying the new arrival is generated using a computer implemented user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. 20. A method as defined in claim 17, wherein the pre-screening area of the security checkpoint includes a tray dispensing module, the tray dispensing module including a detection module for detecting arrival of the person at the security checkpoint, wherein the signal conveying the new arrival is generated by the detection module. 21. A method as defined in claim 20, wherein the detection module for detecting the arrival of the person at the security checkpoint includes a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. 22. A method as defined in claim 21 , wherein the user interface further includes user operable controls for allowing the person to provide information specifying at least one of: a) a number of trays to be provided for holding belongings to be screened;

b) a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system. 23. A method as defined in claim 20, wherein the detection module for detecting the arrival of the person at the security checkpoint includes at least one of a light barrier and a weight activated mat.

24. A method as defined in claim 1 to 15, wherein detecting the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes obtaining information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

25. A method as defined in claim 24, wherein the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes a picture of the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

26. A method as defined in claim 24, wherein the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes biometric information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

27. A method as defined in claim 26, wherein the biometric information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes at least one of a finger print, facial scan, hand palm scan and a retinal scan. 28. A method as defined in claim 24, wherein obtaining information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes scanning an identification document associated with the person.

29. A method as defined in claim 28, wherein the personal document includes at least one of a boarding pass, a ticket, a passport and a driver' s license.

30. A method as defined in any one of claims 24 to 29, said method comprising: a) using the obtained information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to obtain information conveying a risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

b) wherein the specific clearance status assigned to the specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

the item specific threat assessment results;

the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; and the risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

31. A method as defined in claim 30, wherein the personal document includes a boarding pass and wherein the risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes at least one of:

a) a risk profile associated with travel information conveyed by the boarding pass;

b) a risk profile associated with a one of a country based, region based and world based risk profile.

32. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 31 , wherein the security checkpoint is an airport security checkpoint and wherein the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint is a passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

33. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 30, where the security checkpoint is a railway station security checkpoint.

34. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 30, where the security checkpoint is in a facility considered to be critical infrastructure.

35. A method as defined in any one of claims 1 to 31, wherein one of the at least two post scan areas is a baggage reclaim area and wherein another one of the at least two post scan areas is an area for further inspection.

36. A security checkpoint screening system comprising: a) a screening station having:

a scanning area including one or more scanning device for scanning persons' belongings with penetrating radiation to derive data;

a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area;

- at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area;

a switching area to direct the items to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas;

a conveyor system for controlling a displacement of the persons' belongings through the security checkpoint screening system;

b) a computing system comprising one or more programmable processors in communication with said screening station, the computing system being programmed with software for: receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station;

creating a grouping of items including the two or more items, the grouping of items being created at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated with the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station;

receiving data associated with the items in the grouping of items, the data being derived at least in part by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

using the data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

(1) item specific threat assessment results; and

(2) threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

using the assigned clearance statuses to generate signals for causing the conveyor system to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

37. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 36, wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

(1) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened;

(2) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening.

38. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 37, wherein the grouping of items is a grouping of trays and wherein each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

39. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 38, wherein the conveyor system includes mechanical switches in the switching area of the screening station for controlling the displacement of the items through the security checkpoint screening system, said computing system being programmed with software for using the assigned clearance statuses to generate and release signals for controlling the mechanical switch of the conveyor system in the switching area of the screening station to direct the respective items to the specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

40. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 39, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes:

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results;

deriving threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the adjusted item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item. 41. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 40, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items. 42. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 40, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes marking the specific item for further inspection irrespective of the item specific threat assessment results if at least one other item in the grouping of items was marked for further inspection.

43. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 39, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes:

receiving information conveying the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items, wherein the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items were derived at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other that the specific item;

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results, wherein the processing of the data associated with the specific item is selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items at least in part by processing the derived item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item. 44. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 43, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively modifying a sensitively level of an automated threat detection engine used to process the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

45. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 43, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

46. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 45, wherein the signals generated using the assigning clearance statuses are configured for causing the conveyor system to direct all items in the grouping of items to a same one of said at least two post-scan areas.

47. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 46, wherein the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items is obtained from computer readable tags attached to the two or more items, wherein said security checkpoint screening system comprises a reader module in communication with the computing system for: a) obtaining identification information from the computer readable tags associated to the two or more items;

b) providing the identification information to the computing system in association with the person newly arrived at the screening station.

48. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 47, wherein the computer readable tags include one of bar code information and QR code information and wherein the reader module is a reader configured to scan the one of bar code information and the QR code information.

49. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 47, wherein the computer readable tags include RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) information and wherein the reader module is a RFID reader configured to scan the RFID information.

50. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 47, wherein the computer readable tags include Near Field Communication (NFC) memory devices and wherein the reader module is an NFC enabled device.

51. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any of claims 47 to 50, wherein creating the grouping of item is performed in absence of information associated with the person newly arrived at the screening station.

52. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 51 , wherein said screening station further includes an input device for generating a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint and for providing said signal to the computing system.

53. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 52, wherein the input device for generating the signal conveying the new arrival includes a hand held device operated by a screening agent at the screening station.

54. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 52, wherein the input device for generating the signal conveying the new arrival includes computer implemented user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the screening station to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint.

55. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 52, wherein the input device for generating the signal conveying the new arrival at the security checkpoint including a detection module part of a tray dispensing module in the screening area of the screening station.

56. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 55, wherein the detection module includes a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the screening station to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint.

57. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 55, wherein the detection module includes a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the screening station to provide at least one of:

a) information specifying a number of trays to be provided for holding the belongings to be screened; and

b) information specifying a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system.

58. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 55, wherein the passenger detection module for detecting the arrival of the person at the security checkpoint includes at least one of a light barrier, a computer vision system, a turnstile and a weight activated mat.

59. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 36 to 50, wherein said screening station further includes an input device for generating a signal conveying information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, said input device being in communication with the computing system for providing said signal conveying the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

60. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 59, wherein the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes a picture of the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint and wherein the input device including a camera for generating the picture of the person.

61. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 59, wherein the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes biometric information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint and wherein the input device includes a biometric reader for generating the biometric information.

62. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 61, wherein the biometric reader includes at least one of a finger print scanner, face scanner, hand palm scanner and a retinal scanner,

63. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 59, wherein the input device for generating the signal conveying information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes a scanning device for scanning an identification document associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

64. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 63, wherein the personal document includes at least one of a boarding pass, a ticket, a passport and a driver's license.

65. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 59 to 64, said computing system being programmed for:

a) receiving from the input device the signal conveying information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

b) obtaining information conveying a risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint at least in part by processing the information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

c) wherein the specific clearance status assigned to the specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

the item specific threat assessment results;

the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; and the risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

66. A security checkpoint screening system as defined in claim 65, wherein the personal document includes a boarding pass and wherein the risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes at least one of:

a) a risk profile associated with travel information conveyed by the boarding pass; b) a risk profile associated with a one of a country based, region based and world based risk profile.

A security checkpoint screening system as defined in any one of claims 36 to 66, wherein the security checkpoint is an airport security checkpoint and wherein one of the at least two post scan areas is a baggage reclaim area and wherein another one of the at least two post scan areas is an area for further inspection.

68. A computer program product comprising one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media storing computer executable instructions for use in screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas, the computer executable instructions, when executed, cause a programmable system including at least one programmable processor to perform operations, the operations comprising:

a) receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station;

b) creating a grouping of items at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station;

c) receiving data associated with the items in the grouping of items, the data being derived by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

d) using the data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

item specific threat assessment results; and threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

e) using the assigned clearance statuses to generate signals for causing the conveyor system to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

69. A computer program product as defined in claim 68, wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

(1) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened;

(2) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening.

70. A computer program product as defined in claim 68, wherein the grouping of items is a grouping of trays and wherein each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

71. A method for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for scanning the persons' belongings with penetrating radiation to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas, said method comprising:

a) receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station;

b) creating a grouping of items including the two or more items, the grouping of items being created at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station, wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

(1) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened;

(2) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening; c) receiving data associated with items in the grouping of items, the data being derived by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

d) in the switching area, directing all items in the grouping of items to a specific one of said at least two post-scan areas at least in part by processing results obtained by applying threat assessment processes to the data associated with the items in the grouping of items.

. A method for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for scanning the persons' belongings with penetrating radiation to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area and at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area, said method comprising:

a) in the pre-scanning area:

detecting a person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

creating a grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, wherein the grouping of items includes two or more items;

b) using the conveyor system to carry the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area to derive data associated with the items in the grouping of items;

c) using the derived data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

item specific threat assessment results; and

threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

d) using assigned clearance statuses to selectively trigger an alarm module in connection with the specific item.

73. A method as defined in claim 72, wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

(1) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened; (2) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening.

74. A method as defined in claim 73, wherein each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

75. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 74, wherein selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific items includes at least one of:

a) selectively releasing an audio signal when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint;

b) selectively releasing a visual signal when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint;

c) selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint so that the specific item may be displaced to a specific post-scan area for further inspection;

d) selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint so that the specific item may undergo inspection by security personnel prior to the conveyor system resuming displacing the specific item.

76. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 74, wherein selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific item includes:

a) selectively releasing an audio signal when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint; and

b) selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint so that the specific item may be displaced to a specific post-scan area for further inspection.

77. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 76, wherein the at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area of the security checkpoint includes at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and wherein the security checkpoint further includes a switching area to direct the items to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas, wherein selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific item includes using assigned clearance statuses to direct the specific item to a specific one of said at least two post-scan areas.

78. A method as defined in claim 77, wherein items in the grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint are assigned respective clearance statuses so that all items in the grouping of items belonging to the person are directed to a same one of said at least two post- scan areas.

79. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 78, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes:

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results;

deriving threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the adjusted item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item.

80. A method as defined in claim in any one of claims 72 to 74, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

81. A method as defined in claim 80, wherein selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item includes marking the specific item for further inspection irrespective of the item specific threat assessment results if at least one other item in the grouping of item was marked for further inspection.

82. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 78, wherein deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items includes:

receiving information conveying the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items, wherein the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of item were derived at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results, wherein the processing of the data associated with the specific item is selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items at least in part by processing the derived item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item.

83. A method as defined in claim 82, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively modifying a sensitively level of an automated threat detection engine used to process the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

84. A method as defined in claim 82, wherein the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item includes selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items.

85. A method as defined in any one of claims 72 to 84, wherein each item is associated with a respective computer readable tag conveying identification information, wherein creating the grouping of items includes obtaining identification information from computer readable tags associated to the two or more items.

86. A security checkpoint screening system comprising:

a) a screening station having:

a scanning area including one or more scanning device for scanning persons' belongings with penetrating radiation to derive data;

a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area;

at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area;

- a conveyor system for controlling a displacement of the persons' belongings through the security checkpoint screening system;

b) a computing system comprising one or more programmable processors in communication with said screening station, the computing system being programmed with software for implementing the method defined in any one of claims 72 to 85.

87. A computer program product comprising one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media storing computer executable instructions for use in screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area and at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area, the computer executable instructions, when executed, cause a programmable system including at least one programmable processor to implement the method defined in any one of claims 72 to 85.

Description:
TITLE: SECURITY CHECKPOINT SCREENING SYSTEM AND RELATED METHODS CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

For the purposes of the United States, this application claims the benefit of priority under 35 USC § 1 19(e) based on co-pending U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 62/369,399, which was filed on August 1 st, 2016 and which is presently pending. The contents of the above-noted application are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to security systems and, more particularly, to a security screening system for assisting, and in some cases replacing, screening operators in the detection of potential threats in carry-on luggage, and to a method and/or apparatus for improving the efficiency of security screening processes at security checkpoints.

BACKGROUND

Security in airports, train stations, ports, mail sorting facilities, office buildings and other public and/or private venues is becoming increasingly important, particularly in light of recent violent events.

Generally, when it comes to checkpoint screening at airports for example, a passenger is required to divest his/her personal belongings (e.g., carry-on luggage, coat, laptop, mobile phone and/or other personal belongings) for screening. A passenger usually places his/her personal belongings in multiple trays which are then directed by a conveyor system to one or more scanning devices (e.g. X-ray devices, CT-devices or other). In other cases, the passenger may place some of his/her belongings (e.g. larger articles) directly on the conveyor system and use trays to hold smaller articles. The one or more scanning devices scan the tray contents and/or articles placed directly on the conveyor system as they are carried through the scanning areas and the data generated is processed to assess whether the passenger's personal belongings may present a potential security threat. Each item (e.g. a tray or an article placed directly on the conveyor system) that is identified as not presenting a security threat is dispatched to a reclaim area so that it may be collected by the passenger. In some implementations, the conveyor system may be configured to automatically dispatch an item identified as presenting a potential security threat, or requiring additional scrutiny, to an area for further scanning and/or manual searching. In some other implementations, the system may be configured to cause the movement of the conveyor system to be interrupted when an item identified as presenting a potential security threat, or requiring additional scrutiny, reaches a specific zone so that further scanning and/or manual searching may be performed on that item.

Screening a passenger's belongings in the aforementioned manner may raise some challenges. For example, when one tray holding the items of a specific passenger is identified as potentially presenting a security threat, security personnel may want to scan or search some or all of the other trays holding items of that passenger even though such trays may not have been identified as presenting a security threat. Current systems do not provide any suitable and convenient mechanism for facilitating such a process.

Another challenge resulting in part from passengers placing their items/belongings in multiple trays is that the trays may be placed out of order on the conveyor system that directs the trays to the scanning device (i.e., not all of the trays associated with a specific passenger are placed sequentially on the conveyor system) and trays belonging to multiple passengers may be interleaved with one another. This may be cause by, without be limited to, parallel divesting taking placed at the checkpoint. As a result, trays associated with a specific passenger may be scanned non-sequentially and even, in some instances, trays associated with a specific passenger may be directed by conveyor system to different scanning devices. Such situations exacerbate challenges of the type described above.

While the use of a single tray per passenger may in theory present a possible approach to address at least in part challenges of the type described above, such an approach has not been found practical in practice. In view of the above, there is a need in the industry for providing an improved security checkpoint screening system that addresses at least some of the deficiencies of existing screening systems. SUMMARY

In accordance with a first aspect, a method for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint is presented. The security checkpoint includes a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas. The method comprises:

a) in the pre-scanning area:

detecting a person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

creating a grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, wherein the grouping of items includes two or more items;

b) using a conveyor system to carry the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area to derive data associated with the items in the grouping of items;

c) using the derived data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

item specific threat assessment results; and

threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

d) in the switching area, using assigned clearance statuses to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

It should be appreciated that the terminology a "grouping of items" as used in this document may refer to one, two or more items which are associated into a logical grouping. In other words, a grouping of items refers to items that have been logically grouped together without the items having necessarily being sequentially positioned on the conveyor system.

In specific practical implementations, each item in the grouping of items may be (i) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened or (ii) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening. Alternatively, for security checkpoints where persons' belongings must be placed in trays, the grouping of items is a grouping of trays and each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

Advantageously, by creating groupings of items for the belongings of a same person and screening results of individual items in a grouping may be used to influence the screening process and/or results of other items in that grouping, which may result in improvements in efficiency for screening at security checkpoints.

In some specific practical implementations, items in the grouping of items belonging to the person may be assigned respective clearance statuses so that all items in the grouping of items belonging to the person are directed to a same one of the at least two post-scan areas. Advantageously, if one item in the grouping is classified as "not cleared" (or is marked for "further inspection") then all other items in that same grouping may be classified as "not cleared" (or marked for "further inspection") irrespective of actual threat assessment results of the other individual items. In such manner, items belonging to a common person (owner) may be directed to a same "post- scan" area (e.g., to a reclaim area or to an area for further scanning/search).

In accordance with some specific implementations, deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items may include:

processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results;

- deriving threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; and deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the adjusted item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item. In some specific practical implementations, item specific threat assessment results may be assigned to a specific item at least in part based:

(1) on automated threat detection results obtained by processing data associated with the specific item with an automated threat detection engine; and/or

(2) threat assessment information provided by a human operator.

In some practical implementations, selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item may include selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items. Alternatively, selectively adjusting the item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item may include marking the specific item for further inspection irrespective of the item specific threat assessment results if at least one other item in the grouping of items was marked for further inspection.

In accordance with some other specific implementations, deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items may include:

receiving information conveying the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items, wherein the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items were derived at least in part by processing data associated with at least one item in the grouping of items other than the specific item;

- processing data associated with the specific item to derive the item specific threat assessment results, wherein the processing of the data associated with the specific item is selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

deriving the specific clearance status associated with the specific item in the grouping of items at least in part by processing the derived item specific threat assessment results associated with the specific item. In some practical implementations, the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item may include selectively modifying a sensitively level of an automated threat detection engine used to process the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items. Alternatively, the selective adjustment of the processing of the data associated with the specific item may include selectively applying a threat detection process to the data associated with the specific item at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items. In some specific practical implementations, the items in said grouping of items have respective computer readable tags associated therewith and conveying item identification information. In some of these implementations, creating the grouping of items including the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint may include obtaining item identification information from the computer readable tags associated to the two or more items and assigning the two more items to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint at least in part by using the item identification information obtained from computer readable tags associated to the two or more items.

In specific practical implementation in which the grouping of items is a grouping of trays including two or more trays, the method may further comprise providing a plurality of trays at the security checkpoint, the trays having respective computer readable tags associated therewith conveying identification information. In some implementations, creating the grouping of trays may include obtaining identification information from computer readable tags associated to the two or more trays and assigning the two more trays to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint at least in part by using the identification information obtained from computer readable tags associated to the two or more trays.

In some practical implementations, whether the grouping of items includes trays, articles placed directly on the conveyor system or a combination of the two, each item may be associated with a respective computer readable tag that may include information in any suitable format including for example bar code(or QR code) information, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) information, a Near Field Communication (NFC) memory device or any other information format suitable for allowing the items in the plurality of item to be distinguished from one another and preferably to be uniquely identified. A suitable electronic reader may be used to obtain the information from the computer readable tag, such as, for example, a bar-code reader to scan the bar code(or QR code) information, an RFID reader to scan the RFID information, an NFC enabled device for scanning the information stored in the NFC memory device or any other suitable device.

In some implementations of a first type, the creation of grouping of items including the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint may be performed in absence of information associated with the person and in particular in the absence of information conveying an identity of the person newly arrived at the checkpoint.

Advantageously an ability to create a grouping of items owned by a same person without the identity of the person necessarily being known may be desirable in some practical implementations as it may allow respecting privacy laws/concerns in force in some jurisdictions.

In some specific practical implementations, detecting the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint includes receiving a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint. The signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint may be generated in any suitable manner.

If some non-limiting examples, the signal conveying the new arrival may be generated using a hand held device operated by a screening agent and/or by using a computer implemented user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint.

Alternatively, in some specific practical implementations, the pre-screening area of the security checkpoint may include a tray dispensing module having a detection module for detecting arrival of the person at the security checkpoint and generating the signal conveying this new arrival. The detection module may include a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint and/or may include user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to provide information specifying a number of trays to be provided for holding the belongings to be screened and/or may include user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to provide information specifying a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system. Alternatively, or in addition, the detection module may include other suitable mechanisms for detecting the arrival of the person at the security checkpoint including for example, without being limited to, a light barrier, a weight activated mat and a computer vision-based system.

In some specific implementations, detecting the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint may include obtaining information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint. The information may be in different forms including, without being limited to, a picture of the person, a description of physical characteristics of the person (eye color, hair color, height, etc.), biometric information associated with the person (e.g. finger print, retinal scan and the like) and/or information extraction from a personal document (e.g. passport, driver's license, boarding pass, ticket and the like).

In a specific practical implementations, obtaining information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint may include scanning an identification document associated with the person, such as a boarding pass, a ticket, a passport and a driver's license for example.

Advantageously an ability to create a grouping of items owned by a same person with some information related to the person may allow using a risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to influence the screening process. In this regard, the method may comprise using the obtained information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint to obtain information conveying a risk profile associated with the person from a database and using the risk profile when deriving the specific clearance status assigned to items in the grouping of items. As a result, the specific clearance status for a specific item may be derived at least in part by processing the item specific threat assessment results, the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; and the risk profile associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint. The claimed method may be used in connection with security checkpoints having various suitable configurations. In some specific practical implementations, one of the at least two post scan areas may be a baggage reclaim area and another one of the at least two post scan areas may be an area for further inspection.

In accordance with a second aspect, a security checkpoint screening system is presented comprising a screening station and a computing system comprising one or more programmable processors in communication with the screening station. The screening station has a scanning area including one or more scanning device for screening persons' belongings to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post- scan areas. The screening station also has a conveyor system for controlling a displacement of the persons' belongings through the security checkpoint screening system. The computing system is programmed with software for:

receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station to allow the person to place belongings to be screened in the two or more items;

creating a grouping of items including the two or more items, the grouping of items being created at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station;

receiving data associated with the items in the grouping of items, the data being derived at least in part by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

using the data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

(1) item specific threat assessment results; and

(2) threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items; using the assigned clearance statuses to generate signals for causing the conveyor system to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

In specific practical implementations, each item in the grouping of items may be (i) a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened or (ii) an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening. Alternatively, for security checkpoints where persons' belongings must be placed in trays, the grouping of items is a grouping of trays and each item in the grouping of items is a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened.

In some specific implementations, the conveyor system may include mechanical switches in the switching area of the screening station for controlling the displacement of the items through the security checkpoint screening system. The computing system of the security checkpoint screening system may be programmed with software for using the assigned clearance statuses to generate and release signals for controlling the mechanical switch of the conveyor system in the switching area to direct the respective items to the specific ones of the at least two post-scan areas. In some specific non-limiting implementations, the signals generated using the assigning clearance statuses may be configured for causing the conveyor system to direct all items in the grouping of items to a same one of the at least two post-scan areas.

In some specific implementations, the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items is obtained from computer readable tags attached to the two or more items. In this regard, the security checkpoint screening system may comprise a reader module in communication with the computing system for obtaining tray identification information from the computer readable tags associated to the two or more items and for providing the identification information to the computing system in association with the person newly arrived at the screening station. The type of computer readable tag, and type of associated reader module, may vary between specific implementations and many different possibilities may be contemplated by person skilled in the art. Amongst such possibilities, the following may be considered, although other may exist: the computer readable tags include bar code(or QR code) information and the reader module is a bar- code reader (or QR code reader) configured to scan the bar code (or QR code) information; the computer readable tags include RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) information and the reader module is a RFID reader configured to scan the RFID information; the computer readable tags include an NFC memory and the reader module is a NFC-enabled device.

In specific practical implementations, the screening station may further include an input device for generating a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint and for providing the signal to the computing system. The input device may be embodiment in any suitable form including for example a hand held device operated by a screening agent at the screening station, a computer implemented user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. In addition, or alternatively, the input device for generating the signal conveying the new arrival at the security checkpoint may include a detection module that is part of a tray dispensing module in the screening area of the screening station. The person detection module may for example include a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person newly arrived at the screening station to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. Alternatively, or in addition, the detection module may include a user interface including user operable controls for allowing the person to provide information specifying a number of trays to be provided for holding the belongings to be screened and/or specifying a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system. Alternatively, or in addition, the detection module for detecting the arrival of the person at the security checkpoint includes at least one of a light barrier, a computer vision system, a turnstile and a weight activated mat. Many alternative implementations are possible and will become apparent to the person skilled in the art in light of the present document. It is to be appreciated that while in some embodiments the detection module may be part of a tray dispensing module, this need not be the case and it is to be understood that the detection module may be a separate module for detecting arrival of a new person.

In accordance with another aspect, the screening station may further include an input device for generating a signal conveying information associated with the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, the input device being in communication with the computing system for providing the signal conveying the information. The information may be in different forms including, without being limited to, a picture of the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, a description of physical characteristics of the person (eye color, hair color, height and/or any other suitable physical characteristic of the person), biometric information associated with the person (e.g. finger print, facial scan, hand palm scan, retinal scan and/or any other suitable biometric identifier) and/or information extraction from an identification document (e.g. passport, driver's license, boarding pass, ticket and/or any other suitable identification document).

In this regard, the nature of the input device may vary between practical implementations and may include, for example but without being limited to, one or more of the following: a camera for generating the picture of the person; a biometric reader for generating the biometric information (e.g. a finger print scanner, a face scanner, a hand palm scanner and/or a retinal scanner and/or any other suitable reader); an input device for allowing screening agent to enter information conveying a description of physical characteristics of the person (eye color, hair color, height and/or any other suitable physical characteristic of the person); a scanning device for scanning an identification document associated with the person.

In accordance with another aspect, a computer program product is provided comprising one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media storing computer executable instructions for use in screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas. The computer executable instructions, when executed, cause a programmable system including at least one programmable processor to perform operations, the operations comprising:

receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station;

creating a grouping of items at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station; receiving data associated with the items in the grouping of items, the data being derived at least in part by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

- using the data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

o item specific threat assessment results; and

o threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

using the assigned clearance statuses to generate signals for causing the conveyor system to direct respective items to specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas.

In accordance with another aspect, a method for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint is presented wherein the security checkpoint includes a scanning area for screening the persons' belongings to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post- scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas. The method comprises: receiving data conveying identification information associated with two or more items belonging to a person newly arrived at the screening station;

creating a grouping of items including the two or more items, the grouping of items being created at least in part by processing the data conveying identification information associated to the two or more items belonging to the person newly arrived at the screening station, wherein each item in the grouping of items is one of:

- a tray assigned to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint to allow the person to place therein belongings to be screened;

an article belonging to the person newly arrived at the checkpoint that is placed directly on the conveyor system of the security checkpoint for screening; receiving data associated with items in the grouping of items, the data being derived at least in part by scanning the items in the grouping of items with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system displaces the items in the grouping of items from the pre-screening area through the scanning area;

in the switching area, directing all items in the grouping of items to a specific one of said at least two post-scan areas at least in part by processing results obtained by applying threat assessment processes to the data associated with the items in the grouping of items.

In accordance with another aspect, a computer program product is provided comprising one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media storing computer executable instructions for use in screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the persons' belongings to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area, at least two post-scan areas lying subsequent to the scanning area and a switching area to direct the persons' belongings to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas. The computer executable instructions, when executed, cause a programmable system including at least one programmable processor to perform operations in accordance with the above described method.

In accordance with another aspect, a method is provided for screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the persons' belongings to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area and at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area. The method comprises:

detecting a person newly arrived at the security checkpoint;

creating a grouping of items belonging to the person newly arrived at the security checkpoint, wherein the grouping of items includes two or more items; - using the conveyor system to carry the items in the grouping of items from the pre- screening area through the scanning area to derive data associated with the items in the grouping of items;

using the derived data associated with the items in the grouping of items to assign a respective clearance status to respective items in the grouping of items, wherein a specific clearance status assigned to a specific item in the grouping of items is derived at least in part by processing:

(i) item specific threat assessment results; and (ii) threat assessment results associated with the grouping of items;

using assigned clearance statuses to selectively trigger an alarm module in connection with the specific item.

In specific practical implementations, selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific items may include one or more of the following:

selectively releasing an audio signal when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint; and/or

selectively releasing an visual signal when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint; and/or

selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint so that the specific item may be displaced to a specific post- scan area for further inspection; and/or

selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint so that the specific item may undergo inspection by security personnel prior to the conveyor system resuming displacing the specific item.

In some specific implementations, the post-scan area may include two or more post-scan areas and a switching area may be provided to direct the items to different post-scan areas of the at least two post-scan areas. In such implementation, selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific item may include using assigned clearance statuses to direct the specific item to a specific one of said at least two post-scan areas.

In accordance with another aspect, a security checkpoint screening system is provided comprising a screening station having: a scanning area including one or more scanning device for scanning persons' belongings with penetrating radiation to derive data;

a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area;

at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area; a conveyor system for controlling a displacement of the persons' belongings through the security checkpoint screening system;

The security checkpoint screening system also comprises computing system having one or more programmable processors in communication with the screening station, the computing system being programmed with software for implementing the above described method.

In accordance with another aspect, a computer program product is provided comprising one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media storing computer executable instructions for use in screening persons' belongings at a security checkpoint, the security checkpoint including a scanning area for screening the items to derive data, a pre-scan area lying before the scanning area and at least one post-scan area lying subsequent to the scanning area. The computer executable instructions, when executed, cause a programmable system including at least one programmable processor to implement the above described method.

The features of embodiments which are described in this disclosure are not mutually exclusive can be combined with one another. Elements of one embodiment can be utilized in the other embodiments without further mention. Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying Figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A detailed description of examples of implementation of the present invention is provided herein below with reference to the following drawings, in which: Figure 1 shows a non-limiting example of a security checkpoint screening system in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention; Figure 2 shows a block diagram of a computing system for use with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention; Figure 3 shows groupings of trays including one, two or more trays that may be assigned to respective passengers (persons) in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 4A is a block diagram showing functional components of a screening agent input device suitable for use with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 4B shows a handheld device incorporating at least some functional elements of the screening agent input device of Figure 4A in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation ;

Figure 5A shows a block diagram of a passenger input device that may be suitable for use with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 5B,5C and 5D illustrate specific non-limiting examples of user interfaces that may be suitable for use with the passenger input device depicted in Figure 5A.

Figure 6A shows a block diagram of a (passenger) detection module suitable for use with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 6B shows an example of a tray dispenser module incorporating the (passenger) detection module of Figure 6A in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention; Figure 7 shows a non-limiting example of a security checkpoint screening system incorporating the tray dispensing module of Figure 6B in accordance with an alternative specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention; Figure 8A shows a non-limiting example of a security checkpoint screening system having a passenger identification input device in accordance with another specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 8B shows a non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device of Figure 8A, where the passenger identification input device includes a camera, in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 8C shows an alternative non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device of Figure 8A, where the passenger identification input device includes biometric readers, in accordance with another specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 8D shows another non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device of Figure 8A, where the passenger identification input device includes a scanning device for scanning a passenger identification document, in accordance with another specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

Figure 9 is a perspective view of a tray suitable for use with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 according to a non-limiting example of implementation of the invention; Figure 10 shows a process for screening items at a security checkpoint of the type depicted in Figure 1 in accordance with a non-limiting example of implementation of the invention;

Figure 11 shows a process for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays in accordance with a non-limiting example of implementation of the invention; Figure 12 shows a process for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays in accordance with another non-limiting example of implementation of the invention; Figure 13 shows a process for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays in accordance with another non-limiting example of implementation of the invention;

Figures 14A and 14B are diagrammatic representations of a grouping of trays illustrating clearance statuses in accordance with non-limiting examples of implementation of the invention;

Figure 15A and 15B are diagrammatic representations of a switching area of the security checkpoint screening system in accordance with non-limiting examples of implementation of the invention; Figure 16A and 16B are diagrammatic representations of images of trays to illustrate images generated by screening devices that may be by the security checkpoint screening system shown in Figure 1 in accordance with non-limiting examples of implementation of the invention;

Figure 17 shows a non-limiting example of a security checkpoint screening system in accordance with another specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention; and

Figure 18 is a block diagram of a distributed computing system that may be used with the security checkpoint screening system of Figure 1 in accordance with an alternative specific non-limiting example of implementation of the present invention;

In the drawings, embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood that the description and drawings are only for purposes of illustration and as an aid to understanding, and are not intended to be a definition of the limits of the invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Specific examples of implementation of the invention will now be described with reference to the Figures. The specific examples of implementation will be described in the context of a security checkpoint at an airport, where the persons whose belongings are to be screening are passengers that have personal belongings that are to be subjected to inspection to enter a secured area prior to boarding an aircraft. However, it should be appreciated that the concepts and features of the security checkpoint described may be implemented in alternative security checkpoints used in other transport facilities (e.g., train stations, railway stations, bus stations, etc.) as well as in other facilities where security screening is desirable (e.g., museums, government buildings, courthouses, private enterprises and the like) and other facilities that may be considered to be part of critical infrastructure for a country, city or other geographical area. Specific examples of critical infrastructure may include, without being limited to, infrastructure for:

electricity generation, transmission and distribution;

gas production, transport and distribution;

oil and oil products production, transport and distribution;

telecommunication;

water supply (drinking water, waste water/sewage, stemming of surface water

(e.g. dikes and sluices));

agriculture, food production and distribution;

heating (e.g. natural gas, fuel oil, district heating);

public health (hospitals, ambulances);

transportation systems (fuel supply, railway network, airports, harbours, inland shipping);

financial services (banking, clearing);

security services (police, military).

In addition, in the examples presented, for the purpose of simplicity, the personal belongings of the passenger (person) are all placed in trays prior to scanning so that the items being scanned are trays holding the passengers' belongings. It is to be expressly understood that, in alternate implementations, articles may be placed directly on the conveyor system and so the items being screened include individual articles and/or include a combination of trays holding belongings and articles being placed directly on the conveyor system.

Shown in Figure 1 is an example of a security checkpoint screening system 100 for use at a security checkpoint in accordance with a non-limiting embodiment of the invention. As shown, the security checkpoint screening system 100 includes a screening station 120. The screening station 120 includes a scanning area 190 having one or more scanning devices 150 for screening passengers' belongings (e.g. with penetrating radiation) to derive data, a pre-scan area 188 lying before the scanning area 190 and at least two post scan areas 192 194 lying subsequent to the scanning area 190. The screening station 120 also includes a switching area 180 to direct the items to different ones of the post-scan areas 192 194 and a conveyor system 185 for controlling displacement of the items through the security checkpoint screening system 100. For the purpose of simplicity, the one or more scanning devices 150 are depicted in Figure 1 as being comprised of a single scanning device 150 however it is to be expressly understood that, in alternative implementations, multiple scanning devices of the same of different types may be used to scan items at the checkpoint. In addition, while a single pre-scan area 188 is depicted in the Figure for the purpose of simplicity, in alternative implementations the system may comprise multiple/parallel pre-screening area in which the passenger may divest their belongings for screening. In general, at the screening station 120 shown in Figure 1, a passenger (i.e., a person) divests his/her personal belongings (e.g., carry-on luggage, coat, lap-top, mobile phone, and/or other personal belongings) for screening by the one or more scanning devices 150. More specifically, the passenger (e.g., passenger 200A) at the pre-scan area 188 places his/her personal belongings in one, two or more trays (e.g., trays 300AI 300 A 2 ) which are then directed by the conveyor system 185 to the one or more scanning devices 150 (e.g. X-ray devices, CT-devices or other). The trays 300 used by the system 100 may be associated with respective computer readable tags attached thereto conveying tray identification information. The security checkpoint screening system 100 is configured to create a grouping of trays (e.g., tray grouping 300A, as shown in Figure 3) comprising multiple trays(e.g., tray grouping 300A includes trays 300AI and 300A 2 ) assigned to a given passenger (e.g., passenger 200A). TO create the groupings of tray, the system 100 may use the tray identification information stored on the computer readable tag associated with the trays alone or in combination with information that may be associated with the passenger. The trays are directed to the scanning area 190 for scanning by the one or more scanning devices 150, and the passenger may pass through one or more passenger screening devices 122 (e.g., a metal detector, full body scanner, etc.) to gain access to the secured side of the security checkpoint (e.g., post scan area 192). The one or more scanning devices 150 scan the trays to derive data, which is then processed to assess whether the items in each tray of the grouping of trays may present a potential security threat. To assign screening results to the trays, the data may be processed using an automated threat detection engine, may be processed by a human operator using visual inspection or may be processed by a combination of an automated threat detection engine and visual inspection by a human operator. In addition to results that may be obtained from scanning the trays, the screening results assigned to the trays may also take into account result from other screening processes including, without being limited to, trace detection, liquid detection devices and body scanning amongst others.

It is a feature of this embodiment that screening results obtained for individual trays in a grouping may be used to influence the screening process and/or screening results of other trays belonging to that same grouping. After the trays are scanned at the scanning area 190, the trays are directed to a switching area 180 where the trays are directed to one of the post-scan areas 192 194. For example, the switching of the trays may be to a first post-scan area 192 for reclaim by the passenger and/or to a second post-scan area 194 for secondary screening, which may include further scanning and/or manual searching for example. The screening results obtained for the one or more trays in the grouping of trays are used to control at least in part the switching of each of the trays in the grouping of trays to direct the tray to either the first post-scan area 192 or the second post-scan area 194.

The security checkpoint screening system 100 also includes, or may be in communication with, a computing system 175.

Shown in Figure 2 is an example of the computing system 175 in communication with the screening station 120 in accordance with a non-limiting embodiment of the invention. The computing system 175 includes one or more input/output interfaces 300 in communication with the screening station 120, one or more programmable processors 302 and one or more computer readable memory units 306 (e.g., one or more tangible non-transitory computer readable storage media for storing computer executable instruction anaVor computer readable data). The one or more programmable processors 302 may be implemented using any suitable CPU (central processing unit), IC (integrated circuit), ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), DSP (digital signal processor), FPGA (field programmable gate array) and/or other suitable hardware device. The one or more computer readable memory units 306 may include RAM (random access memory), ROM (read only memory), flash memory, hard disk drive(s) and/or any other suitable memory device. The computing system 175 may be located proximate to the screening station 120 or may be remotely located from the screening station ] 20. The computing system 175 may alternatively be distributed in nature where different devices that may be located in different locations to implement various parts of the processing and/or communication functions described in the present document. For example, computing system 175 may include more than one computing entity, where one computing entity may be located proximate to the screening station 120 and another computing entity may be located remote from the screening station 120, the computing entities being in communication with one another over a computer network. It will be appreciated by the person skilled in the art in view of the present description that the specific configuration of the computing system 175 may vary between implementations.

Referring back to the specific and non-limiting example shown in Figure 1 , five passengers 200A 200B 200C 200D 200E are shown at the screening station 120. To assist in illustrating the association of the five passengers 200A 200B 200C 200D 200E in Figure 1 with respective trays, reference will be made to Figure 3. As shown in Figure 1 , the passenger 200A and the passenger 200B are located in the pre-scan area 188. In the pre-scan area 188, two trays 300AI 300 A2 are assigned to the passenger 200A such that the passenger 200A places his/her personal belongings in the two trays 300AI 300A 2 and the security checkpoint screening system 100 is configured to associate the two trays 300AI 300 A2 to one another to create a grouping of trays 300A. Examples of manners in which grouping of trays may be created will be discussed later one in this document.

Similarly to trays 300AI 300A 2 being assigned to the passenger 200A, in the pre-scan area 188 the three trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 are assigned to the passenger 200B such that the passenger 200B places his/her personal belongings into the three trays 300BI 300B 2 300B 3 and the security checkpoint screening system 100 is configured to associate to one another the three trays 300B i 300 Β2 300B 3 to create a grouping of trays 300B- Looking back to Figure 1, the trays 300A i 300A 2 of the passenger 200A and the trays 300B I 300B 2 300 B3 of the passenger 200B may be directed by the conveyor system 185 to the scanning area 190. The passenger 200c shown to be located at the scanning area 190 has placed his/her personal belongings in a single tray 300 C i (see Figure 3). In this case, as the passenger 200c has only used one tray 300ci, the grouping of trays 300c for that passenger is comprised of a single tray, namely 300ci- It should be appreciated that the terminology a "grouping of trays" as used in this document refers to one, two or more trays which are associated into a logical tray grouping. In other words, a grouping of trays refers to trays that have been logically grouped together without the trays having necessarily being sequentially positioned on the conveyor system 185. This is illustrated in Figure 1 where tray 300AI assigned to passenger 200A is following by two trays assigned to passenger 200B before another tray 300A2 appears in the sequence of trays. Continuing our observation of Figure 3, as shown, the passenger 200D has placed his/her personal belongings in four trays 300DI 300D 2 300D 3 300D 4 , which in Figure 1 are shown to be located in the switching area 180 and in post scan area 192.The four trays 300 D1 300D 2 300D 3 300o 4 would have been assigned to the passenger 200p in the pre-scan area 188 and the security checkpoint screening system 100 would have associated the four trays 300DI 300D 2 300D 3 300D 4 to one another in order to create a grouping of trays 300D- The passenger 200E has placed her personal belongings in two trays 300EI 300E2, which in Figure 1 are shown to be located in post scan area 194. Similarly, the two trays 300EI 300E 2 would have been assign to the passenger 200E in the pre-scan area 188 and the security checkpoint screening system 100 would have associated the two trays 300EI 300E2 into a tray grouping 300E- It should be appreciated that the number of passengers and trays shown at the screening station 120 in Figure 1 was presented for the purpose of illustration only to facilitate discussion of embodiments of the invention described herein and that many other possible variations are possible.

It is also to be appreciated that while in Figure 3 respective grouping of trays have been assigned to respective passengers, such assignments may in some implementations be performed without the identity of the passenger necessarily being known, as will be described in further detail in the following sections of the present description. Detecting newlv arrived passenger and creating trav groupings

As mentioned earlier, in the present example, the trays 300 used at the security checkpoint screening system 100 have respective computer readable tags attached thereto conveying tray identification information. The computer readable tags may including information in any suitable format including for example bar code (or QR code) information, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) information, a Near Field Communication (NFC) memory device or any other information format suitable for allowing the trays in the plurality of tray to be distinguished from one another and preferably to be uniquely identified. A suitable electronic reader may be used to obtain the information from the computer readable tag, such as, for example, a bar-code reader to scan the bar code (or QR code) information, an RFID reader to scan the RFID information, an NFC enabled device for scanning the information stored in the NFC memory device or any other suitable device.

Figure 9 illustrates a perspective view of non-limiting example of implementation a tray 300' that may be used in connection with the security checkpoint screening system 100. The tray 300' may be made of any durable material (e.g., plastic and/or any other suitable non-metallic material) that penetrating radiation is able to pass through. As shown, the tray 300' includes a tray body 302, where the tray body 302 may include a base portion and sidewalls extending from the base such that the tray body 302 defines an area for receiving belongings to be screened. The tray 300' also includes a computer readable tag 304. The computer readable tags 304 may be attached and/or embedded to/with the tray 300' . Each computer readable tag 304 of each respective tray 300' at the screening station 102 stores identification information. The identification information of each computer readable tag 304 may include a unique identifier. The unique identifier may be used by the computing system 175 to distinguish from each other trays in a plurality of trays and/or to create groupings of trays. In the embodiment shown in Figure 9 the computer readable tag 304 includes bar code information 308. The bar code information 308 of each tray at the screening station 120 includes identification information. Although the term "tray" is used herein, it may synonymously be used with the terms "bin", "container" and the like.

In some alternate implementations, some articles to be screened may be placed directly on the conveyor system (rather than being placed in trays), computer readable tags including identification information may be attached to these articles themselves. For example, a temporary RFID tag may be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system in the pre-screening area and/or a unique code may be embedded in an RFID tag within the article(the code may optionally be assigned to the passenger himself and embedded in the RFID tag in the article). The person skilled in the art in view of the present description will appreciate how the system may be adapted for incorporating some articles placed directly on the conveyor system and therefore such embodiments will not be described in further detail here.

According to some practical embodiments, the security checkpoint screening system 100 may be configured such that, in the pre-scan area 188 of the screening station 120, functional components are provided for detecting arrival of new passengers.

According to some practical embodiments, the security checkpoint screening system 100 may be configured to create a grouping of trays (including one, two or more trays) at least in part based on detection of a passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint, where the trays in the grouping of trays are assigned to the newly arrived passenger to allow the newly arrived passenger to place belongings to be screened in the trays of the grouping of trays. The specific approach used for creating a grouping of trays at the security checkpoint may vary between implementations and some specific non-limiting examples for creating a grouping of trays will be described in the present document.

According to some practical embodiments, the screening station 120 may include an input device 354 for generating a signal informing the computing system 175 of new arrivals at the security checkpoint. A "new arrival" or a passenger "newly arrived" is used in this document to refer to a passenger that has arrived at the pre-scan area 188 of the security screening station 120 and that will be undergoing a screening process. For example, when passenger 200A approaches the pre-scan area 188, the input device 354 may be utilized to convey to the computing system 175 that the passenger 200A s a new arrival at the security checkpoint. It should be appreciated that, for example, after the passenger 200A passes through and leaves the checkpoint, if the passenger 200A desires to pass through the security checkpoint at a later time (e.g., for a flight on a later date), the passenger 200 A may still be considered to be a new arrival at the checkpoint 120 for the purpose of security checkpoint screening system 100. The input device 354 is configured to generate a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint and for providing the generated signal to the computing system 175. The input device 354 may also be configured to obtain and provide to the computing system 175 tray identification information obtained from computer readable tags attached to the one or more trays to be used by the newly arrived passenger. The signal generated may be transmitted from the input device 354 to the computing system 175 over any suitable communication link including a wired or wireless link.

Input device 354 may include device for operation by screening agent A first non-limiting example of implementation of the input device 354 for generating the signal conveying the new arrival is shown in Figure 4A as including a screening agent input device 400 to be operated by a screening agent 10 (shown in Figure 4A) and may include user operable controls 410 for allowing the screening agent 10 to provide an input conveying the new arrival at the security checkpoint and an input/output interface 412 for exchanging signals with the computing system 175. Optionally, the screening agent input device 400 may also include a reader module 450 suitable for obtaining information from the computer readable tag attached to the trays, such as, for example, a bar-code (or QR code) reader to scan the bar code (or QR code) information, an RFID reader to scan the RFID information, an NFC enabled device for scanning the information stored in the NFC memory device or any other suitable device. Alternatively, or in addition, the reader module 450 may be suitable for obtaining information from a passenger's boarding pass, passport and/or other passenger document as will be illustrated by way of specific non-limiting examples later on in the present document. Optionally, the user operable controls 410 may also allow the screening agent 10 to provide a command for causing the reader module 450 to obtain tray identification information in connection with one or more trays to be used by the new arrival. The screening agent input device 400 may further include a processor and/or computer readable memory in communication with the controls 410, the input/output interface 412 and the optional electronic/optical reader module 450, wherein the computer readable memory stores instructions for the operation of the screening agent input device 400. Figure 4B illustrates a non-limiting practical implementation of the screening agent input device 400 of Figure 4A in the form of a hand-held device 400' for generating the signal conveying the new arrival and, optionally, for obtaining tray identification information in connection with one or more trays to be used by the new arrival. In this non-limiting embodiment, the reader module 450 for obtaining tray identification information in connection with one or more trays to be used by the new arrival is shown as including an electronic/optical reader 450' in the form of an infra-red bar-code reader. A push button 410 a ' is provided as a user operable control, wherein the screening agent 10 may actuate the push button 410a' each time a newly arrived passenger arrives at the screening station 120. Optionally, in some implementation, the actuation of push button 410 a ' may cause the electronic/optical reader module 450' to read a computer readable code on a document associated with the new passenger, for example a boarding pass, passport, driver's license or any other suitable document, in order to obtain passenger information. Another push button 410 b ' is provided as a user operable control, wherein the screening agent 10 may actuate the push button 410 b ' for each new tray taken by the newly arrived passenger at the screening station 120. In this example, actuation of the push button 410 b ' m ay cause the electronic/optical reader module 450' to read a computer readable code associated with a tray used by the newly arrived passenger. Alternatively, and as will be discussed elsewhere in this document, the reader module may be separate from the handheld device 400' and may be located elsewhere in the pre-scan area 188. For example, the reader module may include sensors located in the pre-scan area configured for obtained tray identification information in connection with one or more trays to be used by the new arrival. By way of another non-limiting example (not illustrated in the figures), at least some of the user operable controls 410 of the screening agent input device 400 of figure 4A may be implemented as part of a graphical user interface displayed on a display device of a computing device. In such case, the user operable controls may include one of more touch sensitive areas on the display device to allow the agent 10 to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint of a passenger.

According to some specific and non-limiting examples of implementation, the computing system 175 of the security checkpoint screening system 100 may receive data from the input device 354 conveying identification information associated with the one, two or more trays (e.g., trays 300AI 300 A 2 ) assigned to a passenger (e.g., passenger 200A) newly arrived at the screening station 120. For example, the data conveying identification information associated to the trays (e.g., trays 300AI 300A 2 ) may be obtained from computer readable tags 304 attached to the trays (e.g., trays 300AI 300 A2 ).

To further illustrate the use of the hand-held input device 400' shown in Figure 4B in connection with the system 100, a specific and non-limiting example of a process will now be described with reference to Figure 1. In this example, when the passenger 200A enters the pre-scan area 188 and approaches the screening station 120 for placing her personal belongings in trays to be screened, the screening agent 10 marks the arrival of the new passenger by actuating user input 410 a '. This actuation generates a signal that is transmitted to the computing system 175 to convey that a new arrival has been detected and that a new grouping of trays is to be created. Optionally, when actuating the user input 410 a \ identification information associated with passenger 200 A may be obtained by scanning an identification document associated with the passenger (e.g. boarding pass, ticket, passport, travel document, driver's license). The passenger information may also be provided to the computing system 175. Following this, the screening agent 10 assigns two trays 300AI 300 A 2 to the passenger 200A. The assignment of the two trays 300 A i 300 A 2 in this specific example is done by the screening agent 10 pressing twice the control user input 410b' of the handheld device 400' and scanning each of the computer readable tags associated with the two trays 300AI 300A 2 with the reader module 450 of the handheld device 400' . The handheld device 400' transmits data to the computing system 175 conveying the tray identification information of the two trays 300AI 300A 2 . The computing system 175 processes the tray identification information of the two trays 300AI 300 A2 to create a new grouping of trays, namely grouping of trays 300A. When a new passenger arrives at the checkpoint after passenger 200A, the screening agent 10 again marks the arrival of that new passenger by actuating user input 410 a ' and the process begins again. Input device 354 may include a device for operation bv a passenger

In some non-limiting example of implementations, the input device 354 for generating the signal conveying the new arrival may be configured as a passenger input device and be essentially implement in a manner similar to the screening agent input device 400 described with reference to Figures 4A and 4B with some adjustments and will be apparent to the person skilled in the art in light of the present description. Another non-limiting example of implementation of the input device 354 for generating the signal conveying the new arrival is shown in Figure 5A as including a passenger input device 500. In this example, the passenger input device 500 is shown to be operated by passenger 200A to be screened by the security checkpoint system 100. It is to be appreciated that the passenger input device 500 shown in Figure 5A may in some implementations be used as an alternative to the screening agent input device 400 shown in Figure 4A or, alternatively, as an additional component of the input device 354.

In the specific implementation shown in Figure 5A, the passenger input device 500 includes a computer implemented user interface 505 having one or more user operable controls 510 for allowing the passenger to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint and, optionally, to allow the passenger to request one or more trays in which to place his/her items. The passenger input device 500 also includes one or more programmable processors (not shown in the figures) for implementing the functionality of the passenger input device 500. The passenger input device 500 may be located in the pre-scan area 188 of the screening station 120 and be in communication with the computing system 175 such that signals conveying the user inputs provided by a passenger arriving at the security checkpoint through the passenger input device 500 may be transmitted to the computing system 175. Shown in Figures 5B, 5C and 5D are three non-limiting examples of passenger input devices 500' , 500" and 500" ' (analogous to passenger input device 500) including respective user interfaces 505', 505" and 505" ' (analogous to user interface 505) with user operable controls 510', 510" and 510" ' (analogous to user operable controls 510) for allowing the passenger to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint and, optionally, to allow the passenger to request one or more trays in which to place his/her items. In the examples shown in Figure 5B and 5C, the user operable controls 510' and 510" are in the form of push-buttons on a keypad and/or a touch sensitive area on a graphical user interface for facilitating entry of information by the passenger. In the non-limiting example depicted in figure 5B, each actuation of the control labelled "Push to receive tray(s)" by the passenger results in a tray being dispensed and assigned to the passenger. In some implementations, instead of (or in addition to) providing an input in the form of a keypad and/or a touch sensitive area to indicate arrival of a new passenger, the passenger input device may include a device for scanning a boarding pass of the passenger, such as for example control 510" ' shown in Figure 5D, to allow the passenger to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. In practical implementations, the control 510" ' may include any suitable type of electronic reader. In such implementations, the information obtained by scanning the board pass may be used to associate the passenger to trays in the grouping.

In yet other alternate examples not depicted in the figures, the passenger input device 500, alternatively or additionally to allowing trays to be assigned to newly arrived passengers, may include user operable controls for allowing the passenger to provide information specifying a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system. In some non-limiting example, the configuration of such alternate passenger input device may be similar to the examples depicted in Figures 5B, 5C and/or 5D. ίηριιί device 354 may include a (passenger) detection module

A third non-limiting example of implementation of the input device 354 for generating the signal conveying the new arrival is shown in Figure 6A as including a (passenger) detection module 610. In this example, the (passenger) detection module 610 may in some implementations be used as an alternative to the screening agent input device 400 shown in Figure 4A and/or passenger input device 500 of the type described with reference to Figure 5A or, alternatively, as an additional component of the input device 354 used in combination with one or more other devices.

In the embodiment depicted, the (passenger) detection module 610 is configured for detecting the presence of a new passenger at the pre-scan area 188 and for generating a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint to the computing system 175. The (passenger) detection module 610 may be embodied in many different suitable forms including, without being limited to, weight sensitive mats/surface optical sensors, turnstiles, light barriers, computer vision systems and/or any other suitable tool that may allow detecting the presence of a person at the screening station 120.

In addition to detecting the presence of a new passenger at the pre-scan area 188, the (passenger) detection module 610 may include devices for allowing the passenger to request trays. For example, the (passenger) detection module 610 may include a user interface 615 including user operable controls 625 for allowing a passenger to provide an input conveying arrival at the security checkpoint. The user interface 615 of the (passenger) detection module 610, may alternatively, or additionally, include user operable controls 625 for allowing the passenger to provide information specifying a number of trays to be provided for holding the belongings to be screened.

In yet other alternate examples not depicted in the figures, the user interface 615 of the (passenger) detection module 610, may alternatively, or additionally, include user operable controls for allowing the passenger to provide information specifying a number of computer readable article tags to be provided to be attached to articles placed directly on the conveyor system.

Input device 354 ma y be pan of trax dispensing module

In some practical implementations, the input device 354 for generating the signal conveying the new arrival may be part of a tray dispensing module configured for dispensing trays to passengers at the security checkpoint. In such implementations, the input device 354 may include a passenger input device 500 of the type described with reference to Figure 5A and/or a screening agent input device 400 of the type described with reference to Figure 4A and/or (passenger) detection module 610 of the type described with reference to Figure 6A for detecting the presence of the passenger at the pre- scan area 188.

Figure 6B shows an example of a tray dispensing module 605 for dispensing trays to passengers in accordance with a specific embodiment in which a (passenger) detection module 610 is integrated. The tray dispensing module 605 may be located in the pre-scan area 188 of the screening station 120.

The tray dispensing module 605 may include a casing for enclosing a plurality of trays and, optionally, a mechanism (not illustrated) for providing trays from the plurality of trays to the passenger. The tray dispensing module 605 may also include a reader module (not shown in the figure) suitably located in the tray dispensing module 605 for reading computer readable tags attached to the trays 300 as they are being dispensed to a given passenger. The reader module may be in communication with the (passenger) detection module 610 such that the (passenger) detection module 610 may transmit the tray identification information of the trays obtained by the reader provided to a specific passenger via the tray dispenser 605 to the computing system 175.

A specific and non-limiting example will now be described with reference to Figure 7 to illustrate an example embodiment of the (passenger) detection module 610 integrated into the tray dispenser 605 shown in Figure 6B. In this example, the (passenger) detection module 610 for detecting the arrival of the passenger at the security checkpoint includes (or is in communication with) a light barrier 704 and a weight activated mat 352. As shown in Figure 7, the light barrier 704 is positioned in this example at the pre-scan area 188 to detect the passenger 200A newly arriving at the pre-scan area 188. The weight activated mat 352 may be used to detect that the passenger is still in the pre-scan area 188 and has not yet left to proceed to be scanned by the passenger screening device 122. As the passenger 200A takes the two trays 300AI 300A 2 from the tray dispenser module 605, the (passenger) detection module 610 may communicate the tray identification information of the two trays 300AI 300A2 to the computing system 175, such that the computing system 175 is able to process this information to create the grouping of trays 300A. More specifically, in this example, when the passenger 200A enters the pre-scan area 188 and passes through the light barrier 704, the light barrier 704 generates a signal that is communicated to the (passenger) detection module 610 indicating that a new passenger has arrived. The weight activated mat 352 may also send a signal indicating that a passenger is also presently standing on the weight activated mat 352. As the passenger 200A receives trays 300AI 300A 2 from the tray dispenser module 605 the reader module 450 reads the computer readable tags 304 of the trays 300A i 300A 2 which is communicated to the (passenger) detection module 610 or, alternatively, directly to the computational system 175. After the passenger 200A steps off of the weight activated mat 352 and proceeds to be scanned by the passenger screening device 122 the weight activated mat 352 sends a signal to the (passenger) detection module 610 indicating that the passenger 200A is no longer presently on the weight activated mat 352. In response to determining the presence of the passenger 200A in the pre-scan area 188 and then the subsequent departure of the passenger 200A from the pre-scan area 188, the (passenger) detection module 610 sends to the computing system 175 the tray identification information of the trays 300A i 300 A 2 provided to the passenger 200A from the tray dispensing module 605 during the timeframe the passenger was in the pre-scan area 188. The computing system 175 may then generate the grouping of trays 300A. In other examples, the weight activated mat 352 may be omitted and an additional light barrier (not illustrated) may be placed subsequent to the area where the passenger divests his/her trays onto the conveyor system 185 (e.g., at the exit way of the pre-scan area 188) to detect that the passenger is leaving the pre-scan area 1 88 and moving towards the scanning area 190.

In other examples, the (passenger) detection module 610 may include (or be in communication with) one or more turnstiles (not illustrated) in addition, or alternately, to the light barrier 704. In such examples, the turnstile may include a mechanical gate consisting of revolving horizontal arms fixed to a vertical post for allowing only one passenger at a time to pass through the turnstile to the pre- scanning area 188. One or more turnstiles may be positioned at the entrance way and/or the exit way of the pre-scan area 188. The turnstiles may communicate with the (passenger) detection module 610 such that the (passenger) detection module 610 is able to determine the presences of a newly arrived passenger in the pre-scan area 188 upon actuation of the turnstile and may identify trays assigned to that passenger.

By way of another example, a turnstile may be positioned at the entrance way to the pre-scan area 1 88 to communicate the detection of a passenger newly arrive to the computer system 175 and a light barrier 704 may be positioned at exit way of the pre-scan area 188 to communicate the departure of the passenger newly arrive from the pre-scan area 188 to the computer system 175.

In yet other embodiments, the input device 354 for communicating with the computing system 175 of a new passenger arrival at the security checkpoint may include the use of computer vison technology (not illustrated). For example, the computer vision technology may include one or more cameras connected to an imaging sensing system that is configured to detect a new passenger arrival at the security checkpoint, where the imaging sensing system is in communication with the computing system 175. In such case, the computing system 175 may be configured to detect and track when a new passenger arrives and/or is assigned trays and associated the assigned trays to the passenger in a grouping of trays. Ojiiion l passenger information associated with trav groupings

It should be appreciated that, in creating the grouping of trays that the computing system 175, may group the trays in the absence of passenger information (i.e., any information regarding the passenger such as a picture, name, etc.).

Advantageously an ability to create a grouping of trays owned by a same passenger without the identity of the passenger necessarily being known may be desirable in some practical implementations as it may allow respecting privacy laws/concerns in force in some jurisdictions.

Optionally, in some other embodiments, the security checkpoint screening system 100 may be configured such that, in the pre-scan area 188, the security checkpoint screening system 100 obtains passenger information for the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint. For example, the input device 354 shown in Figure 1 may be configured with a suitable electronic device for obtaining passenger information. Specific practical implementations of devices part of input device 354 for obtaining passenger information for the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint may vary and non-limiting examples will be further described herein. In some applications, it is noted that passenger information may be used in lieu of a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint. In other words, it may not be necessary for all implementations to have two different signals namely one for conveying a new arrival and another signal conveying passenger information.

Figure 8 A shows a non-limiting example of the security checkpoint screening system 100 where the security checkpoint screening system 100 includes a passenger identification input device 800 in accordance with a specific non-limiting example of implementation. As shown, the screening station 120 includes the input device 800, where the input device 800 is for generating a signal conveying passenger information associated with a passenger (e.g., passenger 200A) newly arrived at the security checkpoint. The input device 800 may be in communication with the computing system 175 for providing a signal conveying passenger information. The passenger information may then be associated with the grouping of trays assigned to the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint. Figure 8B shows a specific and non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device 800, identified as passenger identification input device 800' in the figure, where the passenger identification input device 800' includes a camera 810 (which could be a video camera, still-shot camera, IR camera or any other suitable type of camera) for generating a picture of a passenger. The camera 810 may capture the picture of the passenger 200A when the passenger 200A newly arrives at the checkpoint so that the picture may be communicated to the computing system 175. The computing system 175 may store the picture of the passenger 200A in association with the grouping of trays 300A such that a screening agent in the scanning area 190 and/or the post scanning areas 192 194 may be able to associate the passenger 200A with the trays 300AI 300Α2· Optionally, if one or more of the trays 300AI 300A 2 is directed to an area for further search and/or screening the screening agent may be presented (e.g., on a display device) the image of the passenger 200A and/or the images of the scanned trays 300AI 300A 2 in the grouping of trays 300A. In other cases, the image of the passenger 200A may be sent to a screening agent along with the images of the scanned trays from the one or more scanning devices 150, such that the screening agent may take the picture of the passenger into account when reviewing the images of the trays 300AI 300A 2 .

Although in the above example, the picture of the passenger 200A is associated with the grouping of trays 300A, in other cases the computing system 175 may process the picture of the passenger and generate a computer readable description of the passenger (e.g., the approximate height, age, hair colour, eye colour and the like) such that the computer readable description is associated with the grouping of trays 300A-

Figure 8C shows another specific and non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device 800, identified as passenger identification input device 800" in the figure, including a biometric reader for generating passenger information including biometric information associated with the passenger. The biometric reader may include for example a finger print scanner 825 and/or a retinal scanner 820 and/or face recognition and/or hand palm recognition and/or any other suitable type of biometric reader system. In this example, the biometric reader may capture biometric information (e.g., finger print and/or retina information, etc.) associated with the passenger 200A newly arrived at the checkpoint prior to the passenger 200A being assigned the trays 300AI 300 A2■ The passenger identification input device 800" may communicate the biometric information of the passenger 200A to the computing system 175. The computing system 175 may also/instead process the biometric information of the passenger 200A against one or more reference databases to determine if the passenger 200A is part of a registered/trusted travel program (e.g., Pre-Check, Nexus, etc.). Additionally, or alternatively, the biometric information of the passenger 200A may be processed against other types of databases (e.g., a counterterrorism database contain biometric information of known terrorists, a criminal database, etc.) to determine if the passenger 200A may pose a security threat. The computing system 175 may process the biometric information of the passenger 200A to determine the identification information of the passenger 200A, such as the passengers name, addresses, etc. The biometric information of the passenger 200A or any information derived from the biometric information may be stored in association with the grouping of trays 300A- For example, the computing system 175 may store the biometric information of the passenger 200A or any information derived from the biometric information (e.g., that the passenger 200A is member of a trusted travel program, the passenger's name, that the passenger may have known terrorist connections, etc.) in association with the trays in the grouping of trays 300A such that the processing conducted in the scanning area 190 and/or the post scanning areas 192 194 may be able to take such information into account when assigning a threat assessment result. In some specific implementations, if one or more of the trays 300AI 300A 2 is directed to an area for further search and/or screening, the screening agent may be presented (e.g., on a display device) with the information derived from the biometric information (e.g., that the passenger 200A is member of a trusted travel program, the passenger's name, that the passenger may have known terrorist connections, etc.) and/or the images of the scanned trays 300AI 300A 2 in the grouping of trays 300A. In other cases, the information derived from the biometric information (e.g., that the passenger 200A is member of a trusted travel program) may be sent to a remote screening agent along with the images of the scanned trays from the one or more scanning devices 150. Optionally, the information derived from the biometric information may be used to influence the threat detection process applied at the security checkpoint, for example by increasing and/or decreasing the level of scrutiny applied by an automated threat detection algorithm (for example by modulating the sensitivity level of the algorithm) when processing images of the trays to assigning threat assessment results in accordance. Figure 8D shows another non-limiting example of the passenger identification input device 800, identified as passenger identification input device 800" ' in the figure, including a scanning device 860 for scanning a passenger identification document 855 associated with the passenger 200A- The passenger identification document 855 may include a boarding pass, a ticket, a passport, a driver's license and/or any other document suitable for providing passenger information in connection with the passenger. In this example, the scanning device 860 may scan the passenger identification document 855 (e.g., boarding pass, a ticket, a passport and/or a driver's license, etc.) associated with the passenger 200A newly arrived at the checkpoint prior to the passenger 200A being assigned the trays 300AI 300A 2 . The passenger identification input device 800" ' may communicate the identification information of the passenger 200A obtained from the passenger identification document 855 to the computing system 175. The computing system 175 may process the identification information of the passenger 200A against one or more reference databases to determine if the passenger 200A is part of a registered/trusted travel program (e.g., Pre-Check, Nexus, etc.). Additionally, or alternatively, the identification information of the passenger 200A may be processed against other types of databases (e.g., a counterterrorism database contain biometric information of known terrorists, criminal database, etc.) to determine if the passenger 200A may pose a security threat. The identification information of the passenger 200A obtained from the passenger identification document 855 or any information derived therefrom may be stored in association with the grouping of trays 300A- For example, the computing system 175 may store the passenger information of the passenger 200A (e.g., the name, age, etc. of the passenger 200A, flight information, that the passenger 200A is member of a trusted travel program, that the passenger may have known terrorist connections, etc.) in association with the trays in the grouping of trays 300A such that processing conducted in the scanning area 190 and/or in the post scanning areas 192 194 may be able to take such information into account when assigning a threat assessment result. In some specific implementations, if one or more of the trays 300AI 300A 2 is directed to an area for further search and/or screening, the screening agent may be presented (e.g., on a display device) the information derived from the identification information of the passenger 200A and/or the images of the scanned trays 300AI 300A2 in the grouping of trays 300A- In other cases, the identification information of the passenger 200A may be sent to a remote screening agent along with the images of the scanned trays 300AI 300A 2 from the one or more scanning devices 150. Optionally, the information derived from the identification information may be used to influence the threat detection process applied at the security checkpoint, for example by increasing and/or decreasing a level of scrutiny applied by an automated threat detection algorithm (for example by modulating the sensitivity level of the algorithm) when processing images of the trays to assigning threat assessment results.

Referring back to Figure 1 , the conveyor system 185 includes conveyors for directing items placed thereon in the pre-scan area 188, through the scanning area 190 and onto one of the post scan areas 192 194. The conveyor system 185 is configured to allow items to be placed thereon and to direct trays placed on the conveyor system 185 to the scanning area 190. More specifically, the width of the conveyor system 185 is sufficient to accommodate the placement of trays within which the items to be scanned are placed. The conveyor system 185 includes mechanical switches in communication with the computing system 175 such that the computing system may be able to control the conveyor system 185 so as to control the displacements of items placed thereon to direct items to one or the other of the post scan areas 192 194.

The scanning area 190 includes one or more scanning devices 150; although, for example purposes only a single scanning device 150 is illustrated in Figure 1. The scanning device 150 is configured to scan items with penetrating radiation directed from one or more sources, where the penetrating radiation has a wavelength, frequency and energy that is sufficient to penetrate the tray 300 and its contents. The scanning device may be any suitable device using penetrating radiation to scan items in order to generate data including, without being limited to, X-ray scanners (single or multi-view) and CT scanners. The specific manner in which the images are generated using penetrating radiation is not critical and may vary between implementations. As such, the generation of data will not be described in further details here. The data is provided to a processor module (not shown in the Figures) which processes the data to generate images (e.g., X-ray image or CT-image or CT reconstructed image) of the contents being scanned. The generated images of the items may be processed and/or analyzed further by human and/or automated means (e.g., processed by an automated threat detection (ATD) and/or image enhancement engine and visually reviewed by a screening agent, etc.) in order to assign threat assessment results to the trays. It should be appreciated that the processor module for processing the image data to generate an image may be proximate to the scanning devices 150 or alternatively may be located remotely from the scanning devices 150 (e.g., at a remote processing facility elsewhere inside or outside of the airport). For example, the image data may be transmitted over a data network to the computing system 175 for processing to derive an image from the image data. The one or more scanning devices 150 may be configured to be in communication with the computing system 175. The computing system 175 may be programmed with software for receiving the image data associated with respective trays holding items being scanned via the input/output interface 412, the image data being derived by scanning the trays with penetrating radiation as the conveyor system 185 displaces the trays from the pre-screening area 188 through the scanning area 190. For example, the scanning device 150 may include a reader module (not illustrated) that is able to read the computer readable tag 304 of the tray 300. The reader module associated with the one or more scanning devices 150 for reading the computer readable tags 304 of the trays 300 may be similar to the reader module 450 discussed elsewhere in this document. By way of example, the image data associated with the trays 200AI 00A 2 and the tray identification information obtained from the computer readable tags 304 associated with the trays 200AI 200A 2 are processed by the computer system 175. More specifically, in this example the scanning device 150 scans the first tray 200AI to obtain image data associated with the first tray 200AI and the computer readable tag 304 associated with the trays 200AI is also read to obtain the tray identification information associated with the trays 200AI. Then, image data associated with the first tray 200AI and the tray identification information associated with the trays 200AI is communicated to the computer system 175. The computer system 175 may process and/or store the image data associated with the first tray 200AI and the tray identification information associated with the trays 200A- In this example, the computer system 175 previously received from input device 354 information that the trays 200AI 200 A 2 form a grouping of tray 200A. The computer system 175 may proceed to derive a threat assessment result and/or clearance status associated with the first tray 200AI- Threat assessment results and clearance status are further discussed below. The scanning device 150 also scans the second tray 200A 2 to obtain image data associated with the second tray 200A 2 and the computer readable tag 304 associated with the trays 200A2 is read to obtain the tray identification information associated with the tray 200A 2 - Then, image data associated with the second tray 200A 2 and the tray identification information associated with the trays 200A 2 is communicated to the computer system 175. The computer system 175 may process and/or store the image data associated with the second tray 200A2 and the tray identification information associated with the tray 200A 2 . The computer system 175 may proceed to derive a threat assessment result and/or clearance status associated with the second tray 200A2 which may include taking into account the threat assessment result and/or clearance status associated with the first tray 200AI and/or update the threat assessment result and/or clearance status associated with the first tray 200AI based on the threat assessment result and/or clearance status associated with the second tray 200 A 2 .

Example of processes implemented by the security checkpoint screening system 100

More generally according to various embodiments, the security checkpoint screening system 100 may be configured to processes image data associated with trays in a grouping of trays to assign a respective clearance status to respective trays in the grouping of trays. Specific manners in which clearance statuses may be assigned may vary and some practical examples for assigning clearance status will be described herein in order to illustrate this aspect.

In accordance with a practical embodiment, the specific clearance status assigned to a specific tray in a grouping of trays may be derived by the computing system 175 at least in part by processing tray specific threat assessment results associated with the specific tray in the grouping of trays and threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays. Once a clearance status has been assigned to a specific tray, the security checkpoint screening system 100 is configured to use the assigned clearance status to cause the conveyor system 185 to direct the tray to a specific one of the two post-scan areas 192 194. More specifically, and in accordance with a practical embodiment, the conveyor system 185 is configured to control displacement of the items through the security checkpoint. For example, the conveyor system 1 85 may include one or more mechanical switches 181 in the switching area 180 of the screening station 120 for controlling the displacement of the items through the security checkpoint screening system 100. The computer system 175 may control the mechanical switches 181. For example, the computing system 175 may process assigned clearance statuses associated with respective trays to generate and release signals for controlling the mechanical switch 181 of the conveyor system 185 in the switching area 180 of the screening station 120 to direct respective trays to the specific ones of said at least two post-scan areas 192 194 . A specific and non-limiting example of a process 1100 that may be implemented by the system depicted in Figure 1 for screening items belonging to a common passenger placed in multiple trays will now be described with reference to Figure 10 and to Figure 1.

A passenger 200B arrives at the pre-scan area 188 of the security checkpoint and the security checkpoint screening system 100 detects the new arrival of the passenger 200B (step 1102). The detection of the arrival of the passenger 200B may be performed according to one or more of the embodiments and/or examples described elsewhere in this document. The passenger 200B is then assigned trays 300B i 300B 2 300B 3 in which he/she places his/her personal belongings. The assignment of the trays 300B i 300 B2 300B 3 may be performed according to one or more of the embodiments and/or examples described elsewhere in this document.

The computing system 175 receives tray identification information in connection with, the trays assigned to the passenger 200B and creates a grouping of trays 300 B based on the detection of the passenger 200B newly arrived (step 1104). The grouping of the trays 300B may be created in accordance with the one or more of the embodiments and/or examples described elsewhere in this document. The conveyer system 185 is used to carry the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 in the grouping of trays 300B from the pre-scan area 188 though a scanning area 190 to derive image data associated with trays 300 B i 300 b2 300B3 in the grouping of trays 300 B (step 1106).

The derived image data associated with trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 in the grouping of trays 300B is then processed to assign respective clearance statuses to respective trays 300B i 300B 2 300B 3 in the grouping of trays 300B (step 1108). The image data may be processed using an automated threat detection engine, may be processed by a human operator using visual inspection or may be processed by a combination of an automated threat detection engine and visual inspection by a human operator. Referring now to Figure 16A, example of images 19B I 19B 2 19B3 of the trays 300 B i 300B2 300B 3 derived from the image data are shown. As shown:

• image 19B I corresponds to tray 300B I and was assigned a tray specific threat assessment result of "cleared";

· image 19B 2 corresponding to tray 300B2 and was assigned a tray specific threat assessment result of "not cleared"; and

• image 19B 3 corresponding to tray 300B3 and was assigned a tray specific threat assessment result of "cleared".

In a first example, an automated threat detection (ATD) engine may have been used to process images 19B I 19B 2 19B3 of the trays 300B i 300B 2 300B 3 derived from the image data to derive the tray specific threat assessment results of the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 . In another example, the tray specific threat assessment results may be assigned by a human operator (e.g., a remote screening agent or a screening agent positioned proximate to the scanning device 150) based on a visual inspection of the images 19B I 1 B2 19B3 of the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B3. Alternatively still, the tray specific threat assessment results may be assigned by a combination of an ATD process and a visual inspection performed by a human operator. It is also to be appreciated that different images may have been processed differently, for example image 19B3 may have been processed by an automated ATD engine and image 19B I may have been subjected to visual inspection by a human operator. Once tray specific threat assessment results have been obtained for the trays 300B i 300B2 300B3, the clearance statuses are assigned to the trays in the grouping of trays 300B (namely trays 300B i 300B 2 and 300B 3 ). The clearance status of a specific tray (e.g., 300B 2 ) in the grouping of trays 300B may be derived by taking into account the tray specific threat assessment results associated with the specific tray (e.g., 300B 2 ) and the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays (e.g., the threat assessment results of one or more of the trays 300B I 300B3, as well).

The manner in which a specific clearance status is assigned may vary between implementations as will be appreciated by the person skilled in the art in view of the present description. For example, the clearance status of a particular tray in the grouping of trays 300B may be assigned so that if any one tray in the grouping is marked as "not cleared", all trays in the grouping are assigned a clearance status of "not cleared" or "marked for further inspection" irrespective of actual threat assessment results of the other individual trays. In that same example, if all trays in the grouping are marked as "cleared", then all trays in the grouping can be assigned a clearance status of "cleared". In such manner, trays holding items belonging to a common passenger (owner) may be directed to a same "post-scan" area (e.g., to a reclaim area 192 or to an area for further scanning/search 194).

Alternatively, if any one tray in the grouping is marked as "not cleared", then the clearance status of the other trays in the grouping of trays may be derived in part using results obtained by applying an additional threat assessment process to the images 19B I 1 B2 19B 3 , for example an automated process having a higher sensitivity value and/or by causing an additional visual inspection of the image to be performed by a human operator. The above are only examples and many other approaches may be taken so that a specific clearance status assigned to a specific tray in a grouping of trays may be derived taking into account tray specific threat assessment results of that specific tray and threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays.

Using the clearance statuses assigned to the trays in the grouping of trays 300B (namely trays 300B i 300B2 and 300B 3 ) to control switches in the switching area 180, the conveyor system 185 directs the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 to specific ones of at least two post-scan area 192 194 (step 1 1 10). In the example depicted in Figure 1 , the two post-scan area 192 194 are a baggage reclaim area 192 and an area for further inspection and/or screening 194. Taking the specific example in which the clearance status of a particular tray in a grouping of trays is assigned so that if any one tray in the grouping is marked as "not cleared" (or "marked for further inspection), all trays in the grouping are assigned a clearance status of "not cleared" (or "marked for further inspection"). With reference to the example depicted in Figure 16A, the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 would each have been assigned a clearance status of "not cleared" since the tray specific threat assessment result associated with tray 300B2 was "not cleared". As a result, all the trays 300BI 300B 2 300B 3 would have been redirected to the area for further inspection and/or screening 194 by the conveyer system 185. This is illustrated in Figure 15B where all trays of grouping 300B (namely trays 300 B | 300B 2 300B 3 ) are shown as having been diverted to post-scan area 194. While the example above as described a practical embodiment in which the clearance status assigned is used to control a conveyor system to direct trays to specific post-scan areas, many other embodiments may be contemplated. In accordance with another practical embodiment (not depicted in the figures), once a clearance status has been assigned to a specific item, the security checkpoint screening system is configured to use the assigned clearance status to selectively trigger an alarm module in connection with the specific item. For example, selectively triggering the alarm module in connection with the specific items may include selectively releasing an audio signal and/or visual signal when the specific tray reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint (for example but without being limited to when the tray exits the scanning area). This may also/instead include selectively causing the conveyor system to cease displacing the specific item through the security checkpoint (to essentially "stop") when the specific item reaches a specific area in the security checkpoint, in some cases to allow the specific item to be displaced by a human operator to a specific post-scan area for further inspection or, alternatively, to allow the specific item to undergo inspection by security personnel prior to the conveyor system resuming displacing the specific item.

This other practical embodiment may be used in connection with security checkpoints having two or more post-screening areas of the type depicted in Figure 1 where the conveyor system may be configured to automatically dispatch an item identified as presenting a potential security threat, or requiring additional scrutiny, to an area for further scanning and/or manual searching. In such implementation, the conveyor system includes mechanical switches that may be controlled by the derived clearance status to dispatch items to specific post scan areas.

This other practical embodiment may also be used in connection with security checkpoints that may have one or more post-screening areas but where the conveyor system does not have mechanisms for dispatching items to different post scan areas. In such cases, the system may be configured to cause the movement of the conveyor system to be interrupted when an item reaches a specific zone when the clearance status identifies the item as presenting a potential security threat, or requiring additional scrutiny. In such cases, the interruption in the displacement of an item by the conveyor system provides time for a human operator to take the item and process it as appropriate.

Example I of alternative process for deriving clearance status

A specific and non-limiting example of a practical process 1400 that may be implemented for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays at step 1108 will now be described with reference to Figure 11 and Figure 1.

At step 1402 the image data associated with tray 300BI is obtained from the scanning device 150 to derive a tray specific threat assessment result, which in this specific example is "cleared" as there was no identification of a potentially threat in the tray 300BI .

At step 1404, the threat assessment results associated with a grouping of trays 300B is derived by processing image data associated with at least one tray in the grouping of trays 300B other than the specific tray 300B I (namely tray 300B 2 in this example). In this case, the image data associated with tray 300B 2 obtained from the scanning device 150 is processed to derive a tray specific threat assessment result, which in this case would be "not cleared".

At step 1406, the tray specific threat assessment results associated with the specific tray 300B I are selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays 300B -

At step 1408 the specific clearance status associated with the specific tray 300B I is derived at least in part by processing the adjusted tray specific threat assessment results associated with the specific tray 300B i.

In some implementations, the selective adjustment at step 1406 of the tray specific threat assessment results associated with a specific tray may include selectively applying a threat detection process to the image data associated with the specific tray, for example by selectively using one or more automated threat detected engines to process the image data and or by selectively subjecting the image conveyed by the image data to visual inspection by a human operator. In such implementations the adjusted tray specific threat assessment result would be based at least in part on results obtained by the selective application of the threat detection process to the image data associated with the specific tray. Optionally, in some specific examples, if tray specific threat assessment results assigned to a specific tray in a grouping (for example tray 300B 2 ) conveys that the tray was "not cleared", then the system may be configured to select not to apply a threat detection process to image data associated with some or all the other trays in the grouping (for example tray 300B 3 ) and instead assign an adjusted tray specific threat assessment result to tray 300B3 as "not cleared". In some cases, this may allow to save computational processing pertained to image data and/or save screening operator time.

In yet some other implementations, the selective adjustment of the tray specific threat assessment results associated with a specific tray (e.g., tray 300 B i) may include marking the specific tray (e.g., tray 300B i) for further inspection irrespective of the tray specific threat assessment results of at least one other tray (e.g., 300B 2 ) in the grouping of trays is marked for further inspection.

It will be appreciated that in some cases, in part as a result of how trays in a same grouping may be positioned on the conveyor system 185, it is possible that some trays in a grouping will have already reached one of the two post-scan areas 192 194 of the system 100 before tray-specific tray assessment results may have been adjusted. This is illustrated in Figure 14A where tray 300B 2 , assigned a tray specific threat assessment result of "cleared" has already reached post-scan area 192 by the time tray 300 B3 is scanned in the scanning area 190 and assigned a tray specific threat assessment result of "not cleared" (or "further inspection required"). Optionally, in some practical implementations, if a specific tray (e.g., tray 300 B2 ) was assignment a tray specific threat assessment result of "not cleared", the system may be configured so that some of the other trays in the grouping (e.g., tray 300B 3 ), which may not yet have been scanned by the scanning device 150, may altogether by-pass scanning by the scanning device 150 and be marked for further inspection without requiring any processing of image data associated with such trays. This is illustrated in Figure 14B where tray 300β 3 has been assigned a clearance status of "marked for further inspection" even though it has not yet been scanned in the scanning area 190. While some of the example described above convey threat assessment results as either "clear" or "not clear" or "requiring further search", many other manners of conveying a threat assessment in connection with items undergoing screening may be considered and the manner in which adjustments may be made to the threat assessment may accordingly vary. As a non-limiting example, the threat assessment results may be conveyed as a numerical value within a range of potential numerical values (e.g., between 0 and 10, where 0 is low risk and 10 is high risk). In such an example, the selective adjustment of a specific tray threat assessment result may include increasing or decreasing the numerical value of the assessment result. For example, if it was determined that tray 300BI has a threat assessment of "3" and then it is determined that tray 300B 2 has a threat assessment of "10", the threat assessment of tray 300BI may be selectively adjusted by increasing the tray specific threat assessment result of 300B I to a higher value, for example "7". In another non-limiting example, the threat assessment result for a specific tray may be a graded classification (e.g., low risk, medium risk, high risk) and the selective adjustment of a specific tray threat assessment result may be changing the classification of the specific tray. For example, if it was determined that tray 300B I has a threat assessment of "low risk" and then after it was determined that tray 300B 2 has a threat assessment of "high risk", the threat assessment of tray 300B I may be selectively adjusted by updating the classification of tray specific threat assessment result of 300B l to "medium risk".

Example 2 of alternative process for deriving a clearance status

Another specific and non-limiting example of a practical process 1500 that may be implemented for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays at step 1108 (shown in Figure 10) will now be described with reference to Figure 12.

At step 1502, information conveying the threat assessment results associated with a grouping of trays of which a specific tray is part is received (e.g., grouping of trays 300D), wherein the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays were derived at least in part by processing image data associated with at least one tray (e.g., tray 300DI ) in the grouping of trays other that the specific tray (e.g., tray 300D 2 ). At step 1504, image data associated with the specific tray (e.g., tray 300D I) is processed to derive the tray specific threat assessment results, wherein the process applied to the image data associated with the specific tray in order to assign a threat assessment result is selectively adjusted at least in part by processing the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays (e.g., grouping of trays 300 D ).

In specific practical implementations, the selective adjustment of the processing of the image data associated with the specific tray at step 1504 may include, without being limited to, choosing to apply (or to not apply) an automated threat assessment process to the image; selectively modifying a sensitively level of an automated threat detection engine used to process the image data associated with the specific tray and/or choosing to subject an image conveyed by the image data to visual inspection by one or more human operators at the checkpoint or at a remote screening location. For example, with reference to Figure 16B, if it was determined that tray 300EI (image 19EI) has as threat assessment result of "not cleared" based on the results of processing the image 19EI associated with tray 300 E i, then when the image 19 E2 associated with tray 300E 2 is processed with the ATD engine the sensitivity level may be increased.

At step 1 06, the specific clearance status associated with the specific tray (e.g., tray 300E 2 ) in the grouping of trays (e.g., grouping of trays 300E) is derived at least in part by processing the derived tray specific threat assessment results associated with the specific tray at step 1504.

Example 3 of alternative process for deriving a clearance status

Another specific and non-limiting example of a practical process 1600 that may be implemented for deriving a clearance status associated with a specific tray in a grouping of trays at step 1108 (shown in Figure 10) will now be described with reference to Figure 13 and Figure 1 . In this variant, passenger information is obtained and used by the computing system 175 in order to modulate the threat assessment results assigned to trays in grouping of trays.

At step 1602, the computing system 175 receives from the input device 354 a signal conveying passenger information associated with a passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint. The identification information associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint may be obtained according to one or more of the embodiments and/or examples described elsewhere in this document.

At step 1604, the computing system 175 uses the passenger information associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint to access a database and obtain information conveying a risk profile associated with the newly arrived passenger. For example, the computing system 175 may communicate over a computer network with a passenger risk database to provide the passenger risk database with the passenger information associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint. Then, the passenger risk database may process the passenger information against its records to extract a risk profile associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint. The specific manner in which a risk profile in connection with a passenger is determined is not critical, is beyond the scope of the present disclosure and will therefore not be described further here. The risk profile associated with the newly arrived passenger is then communicated to the computing system 175.

At step 1606, the specific clearance status assigned to the specific tray in the grouping of trays is the derived at least in part by processing:

(i) the tray specific threat assessment results; and/or

(ii) the threat assessment results associated with the grouping of trays; and/or (iii)the risk profile associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint.

Advantageously an ability to create a grouping of trays owned by a same passenger with some information related to the identity of the passenger may allow using a risk profile associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint to influence the screening process of the grouping of trays.

For example, if the risk profile associated with a passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint indicates a low level of risk the trays assigned to the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint may be subjected to reduced processing and/or review. By way of another example, if the risk profile associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint indicates a high risk, all of the trays of a grouping of trays assigned to the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint may be automatically directed to the area for further inspection and/or scanning 194 regardless of the results from the scanning device 150 or without scanning the trays assigned to the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint with the scanning device 150. Optionally still, if the risk profile associated with the passenger newly arrived at the security checkpoint indicates a high risk but the result of the screening convey that the contents appear benign, the system may be configured to allow a screening operator to display on a display device in communication with the system 175 an image of the tray concurrently with images of other trays in the grouping of trays so that the screening operator may view all images at the same time.

Variants

While some specific examples of security checkpoint screening systems were described earlier in the present document, the person skilled in the art will appreciate in view of the present description that many other variants are possible.

As example of such a variant will now be described with reference to Figure 17. More specifically, Figure 17 shows an example of a security checkpoint screening system 100' for use at a security checkpoint in accordance with an alternative embodiment. As shown, the security checkpoint screening system 100' is shown as including a screening station 120' (analogous to screening station 120 shown in Figure 1) having two scanning devices 150, 150 2 (analogous to scanning device 150 shown in Figure 1) in the scanning area 190' (analogous to scanning area 1 0 shown in Figure 1) for scanning items with penetrating radiation to derive image data. The security checkpoint screening system 100' also includes a pre-scan area 188' (analogous to pre-scan area 188 shown in Figure 1 ) lying before the scanning area, four post scan areas 192i 194i 192 2 194 2 (analogous to post-scan areas 192 and 194 shown in Figure 1) lying subsequent to the scanning area 190', switching areas 180i 180 2 (analogous to switching area 180 shown in Figure 1) to direct the items to different post- scan areas 192| 194] 192 2 194 2 and a conveyor system 185' (analogous to conveyor system 185 shown in Figure 1) for controlling displacement of the items through the security checkpoint screening system 100'. An input device 354' (analogous to input device 354 shown in Figure 1) is also provided in the pre-scan area 188' for generating a signal conveying a new arrival at the security checkpoint 100' and, optionally for obtaining tray identification information associated with one or more trays to be used by the new arrival. While the input device 354' has been shown in Figure 17 has being a single module, it is to be appreciated that in practical implementations functionality pertaining to the input device 354' may be implemented by multiple devices interconnected with various components of the system 100' . A computing system 175' (analogous to computing system 175 shown in Figure 1), is in communication with the two scanning devices 150| 150 2 , the conveyor system 185' and its various switches (I 8I 1 181 2 18I 3 ) and the input device 354' for implementing various functions of the security checkpoint screening system 100'.

In use, at the security checkpoint shown in Figure 17, a passenger may divest his/her personal belongings for screening by the scanning devices 150i 150 2 . For the sake of simplicity, the same passengers 200A and 200B as well as the same trays 300AI 300A 2 and 300BI 300B 2 300B3 referred to in Figures 1 and 3 will be used to illustrate the functionality of the system 100' depicted in Figure 17. More specifically, the passenger (e.g., passenger 200A) at the pre-scan area 188' may place his/her personal belongings in multiple trays (e.g., trays 300AI 300A 2 ) which are then directed by the conveyor system 185' to the scanning devices 150i 150 2 (e.g. X-ray devices, CT-devices or other). The security checkpoint screening system 100' is configured to create groupings of trays for the multiple trays assigned to respective passengers. In the example shown there are two passengers 200A 200B, where the passenger 200A has been assigned trays 300AI 300A 2 associated with the grouping of trays 300A (as shown in Figure 3) and the passenger 200B has been assigned trays 300B 1 300B2 300B3 associated with the grouping of trays 300B (as shown in Figure 3). The trays 300AI 300 A2 300B 1 300B 2 300B 3 are directed to one or more of the scanning devices 150j 150 2 . In a non- limiting example, trays belonging to a same passenger may be directed to a same scanning device. For example, the trays 300AI 300A 2 in the grouping of trays 300A may be directed to the first scanning device 150i and the trays 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 in the grouping of trays 300B may be directed to the second scanning device 150 2 . A reader module (not shown) may be provided and be located prior to the scanning devices 150i 150 2 to read the computer readable tags associated with the trays 300AI 300 A2 300 B I 300B 2 300B 3 to control the movement of a mechanical switch I8I 3 to direct trays in respective groupings of trays to one of the scanning devices 150i 150 2 . It should be appreciated that if the passengers 200A 200B place their trays out of order (e.g., some of the trays of the passenger 200A are in between some of the trays of the passenger), such mechanisms may allow tall trays in a grouping of trays to be directed to a same one of the scanning devices 150i 150 2 . It is however to be appreciated that this is only one example of implementation and that in alternate implementations, the trays of a same grouping may be directed to different scanning devices 150i 1502.

Similar to scanning device 150 of the security checkpoint screening system 100 described with reference to Figure 1 , the scanning devices 150] 150 2 scan the trays and the image data derived is processed to assess whether the items in each tray of the grouping of trays may present a potential security threat. After the trays are scanned at the scanning area 190', the trays exiting the first scanning device 150i are directed to a switching area 180 1 and the trays exiting the second scanning device 150 2 are directed to a switching area 180 2 . The trays from the switching area 180i may then be directed to one of the two post-scan areas 192j 194i (e.g., by the mechanical switch 181 1 ) and the trays from the switching area 180 2 may then be directed to one of the two post-scan areas 192 2 194 2 (e.g., by the mechanical switch 181 2 ). In some examples of implementation, the post-scan areas 192i 194[ are a reclaim area and an area for further inspection and/or scanning, respectively, and the post- scan areas 192 2 194 2 are a reclaim area and an area for further inspection and/or scanning, respectively. It should be appreciated that in this example the trays 300AI 300A2 300B I 300B 2 300B 3 may be directed to either the post-scan areas 192i 194i 192 2 194 2 based at least on the screening results obtained in connection with one or more trays in the grouping of trays in a similar fashion as described elsewhere in this document in relation to the security checkpoint screening system 100.

In other examples (not illustrated) the security checkpoint screening system 100' may have two post scan areas 192 and 194 similar to that of the security checkpoint screening system 100 and a suitable conveyor system may be configured to route the trays from each of the scanning devices 150i 1 0 2 to one of the post-scan areas 192 and 194.

Figure 18 illustrates a non-limiting network-based system for screening items at a security checkpoint in accordance with some specific examples of implementation. As shown in Figure 18, one or more scanning devices 150ι' 150 2 ', each of which may be analogous to scanning device 150 shown in Figure 1 , may communicate with a computing system 2175 over a network 2102. Computing system 2175 may implement functionality that is analogous to the functionality implemented by computing systems 175 and 175' described earlier in the present document. The communication links between the various components, systems and/or devices shown in Figure 18 may be comprised of metallic conductors, optical fibers, wireless links or any other suitable type of communication link. The network 2102 may be any suitable network including for example, but not limited to a global public network such as the Internet, a private network and/or a wireless network. The ATD engine 2104 may be used to process image data originating from the one or more scanning devices 150i 150 2 , as described elsewhere in this document. The passenger risk database 2106 may include a non-transitory computer readable memory and may store data conveying a passenger risk profiles.

The person skilled in the art will also appreciate that while some examples presented in the present application have used a computer readable tag to identify items to be screened (e.g. tray or articles placed directly on the conveyor system), alternative implementation may use alternate mechanisms for identifying the items including, without being limited to, computer vision technology. An advantage of using such technology is that, rather than requiring a computer readable tag to be attached to, or otherwise associated with, trays and articles placed directly on the conveyor system, this would allow characteristics of items themselves (e.g. shape, thermal signature, picture, color, etc ..) to be used to identify and assign them to respective persons. The specific manner in which this may be implemented will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art of computer vision. Such implementation is beyond the scope of the present application and as such will not be described further here.

The person skilled in the art will also appreciate that while some examples presented in the present application have described threat assessment results as being derived by processing data obtained by scanning the trays using scanning devices, it is to be appreciate that other factors may also being taken into account when deriving threat assessment results associated to a tray including, without being limited to: body scanning results associated with the passenger, trace detection, metal detectors, origin/destination/itinerary of the passenger, behavioral information associated with the passenger that may be provided by security agents, flight number, airline, number of transits, how the ticket was booked, level of security alert, results obtained from other screening device and other suitable information that may be useful.

Other variants will become apparent to the reader in view of the teachings of the present description and as such, will not be further described here.

The phrases "connected to" and "in communication with" refer to any form of interaction between two or more entities, including mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and electromagnetic interaction. Two components may be connected to each other even though they are not in direct contact with each other and even though there may be intermediary devices between the two components.

Note that titles or subtitles may be used throughout the present disclosure for convenience of a reader, but in no way these should limit the scope of the invention. Moreover, certain theories may be proposed and disclosed herein; however, in no way they, whether they are right or wrong, should limit the scope of the invention so long as the invention is practiced according to the present disclosure without regard for any particular theory or scheme of action.

All references cited throughout the specification are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

It will be understood by those of skill in the art that throughout the present specification, the term "a" used before a term encompasses embodiments containing one or more to what the term refers. It will also be understood by those of skill in the art that throughout the present specification, the term "comprising", which is synonymous with "including," "containing," or "characterized by," is inclusive or open-ended and does not exclude additional, un-recited elements or method steps.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention pertains. In the case of conflict, the present document, including definitions will control.

As used in the present disclosure, the terms "around", "about" or "approximately" shall generally mean within the error margin generally accepted in the art. Hence, numerical quantities given herein generally include such error margin such that the terms "around", "about" or "approximately" can be inferred if not expressly stated.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to certain preferred embodiments thereof, variations and refinements are possible and will become apparent to the person skilled in art in light of the present description. Therefore, the scope of the invention should be limited only by the appended claims and their equivalents.