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Article in Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering · May 2009

DOI: 10.1117/12.817882

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Dual surface dielectric depth detector for holographic millimeter-wave security scanners

Douglas L. McMakin * , Paul E. Keller, David M. Sheen, and Thomas E. Hall Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 902 Battelle Blvd., Richland, WA, USA 99354

ABSTRACT

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is presently deploying 120 millimeter-wave whole body scanners at 21 airports in the United States. Body worn concealed threats and body features are both displayed to the security operator of this device. To remove concerns about privacy, the TSA integrates software techniques and operational procedures. The software technique used is to blur the facial features in the three-dimensional millimeter-wave imagery. The operational technique used is to display the image to an operator in remote location so that there is no association with imagery and the person under surveillance. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) originated this novel security technology and has continued to enhance the state-of-the-art by performing significant research to remove human features from the imagery. Both physical and software imaging techniques have been employed. The physical imaging techniques include polarization diversity illumination and reception, dual frequency implementation, and high frequency imaging at 60 GHz. Software imaging techniques to enhance the privacy of the person under surveillance include extracting concealed threat artifacts from the imagery to automatically detect the threat. This paper will focus on a software privacy technique using a dual surface dielectric depth detector method.

Keywords: Privacy algorithms, millimeter-wave, whole body scanners, personnel surveillance, holography, radar imaging

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Millimeter-wave whole body imaging scanners are being deployed at security checkpoints at major airports both in the United States and Europe. Initially, these systems were deployed as secondary security scanning device. Presently the TSA is running a pilot study at six US airports (San Francisco, Miami, Albuquerque, Tulsa, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas) to examine the operational efficiency of these systems as a primary screening device by using them in the place of the walk-through metal detectors . The millimeter-wave technology will remain voluntary for passengers during the pilot study. Those that don’t want to be scanned by the whole body imager will undergo metal detector screening and a pat-down. The TSA has reported that the majority of passengers have reacted positivity to this innovative security technology. The whole body imaging scanners provide enhanced security over metal detectors in that they can detect non-metallic concealed threats such as plastic and liquid explosives hidden in clothing. They can also detect all types of objects including home-made explosives, contraband, drugs, money, and paper. These scanners are not harmful to humans because they utilize non-ionizing, low power millimeter waves that are 10,000 times less powerful than cell phones to illuminate the person under surveillance. Because the scanner only requires two-seconds to complete a multi- directional scan view of a person, the system throughput is between 300 – 600 people per hour depending on the application. Figure 1 shows a millimeter-wave whole body imaging system deployed at Los Angeles International (LAX) airport.

* doug.mcmakin@pnl.gov; phone (509) 375-2206; fax (509) 375-3621; www.pnl.gov Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is operated by Battelle Memorial Institute for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830

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Fig. 1. Millimeter-wave whole body scanner deployed at LAX security checkpoint The TSA has implemented

Fig. 1. Millimeter-wave whole body scanner deployed at LAX security checkpoint

The TSA has implemented privacy measures using both software and procedural methods for this initial roll-out. The whole body imaging technology is configured in such a way that it has zero storage capability and images are not printed, stored or transmitted. Once the TSA officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is permanently removed from the computer. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image. Additionally, the office viewing the imagery is remotely located out of sight of the passenger so there is no association between the person under surveillance and the millimeter-wave imagery. Figure 2a shows the millimeter-wave imagery of both a female and male passenger with their facial features blurred out. Figure 2b shows a TSA officer viewing the imagery in remote location out of eye sight of the people being screened. PNNL originated this novel security technology and has continued to enhance the state-of-the-art by performing significant research to remove human features from the imagery. Both physical and software imaging techniques have been employed. The physical imaging techniques include polarization diversity illumination and reception, dual frequency implementation, and high frequency imaging at 100 GHz [1,2,3]. Software imaging techniques to enhance the privacy of the person under surveillance include extracting concealed threat artifacts from the imagery to automatically detect the threat. There are several software privacy techniques that PNNL has developed including a Speckle Detector [4]. This paper will focus on an innovative software privacy technique that uses a dual surface dielectric depth detector method.

that uses a dual surface dielectric depth detector method. Fig. 2. (a) Front and back millimeter-wave

Fig. 2. (a) Front and back millimeter-wave whole body imaging results from deployed scanners, (b) TSA security screener review millimeter-wave imagery in a remote, isolated location

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2.0 BACKGROUD

The holographic radar imaging team at PNNL under funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (now TSA) developed a high throughput, millimeter-wave whole-body imager for airport security screening. PNNL licensed this technology to a commercial partner - L-3 Communications. The ProVision system from L-3 Communications is the first commercial implementation of this new personnel screening technology and is shown in Figure 3. This commercial system is a walk-through system that requires a person to stop for approximately two to four seconds and provides a full body scan of the person under surveillance. The ProVision system operates at 24 - 30 GHz and has two seven-foot vertical millimeter arrays that scan both sides of person at the same time in a semi-cylindrical fashion to obtain front and back coverage. At this operational frequency, the lateral resolution is on the order of 0.5 cm and depth resolution is 2.5 cm, although smaller resolution targets can be detected. The operational frequency was initially chosen to meet government regulations (FCC and Export Control). However, higher frequency and wider bandwidth (40 – 60 GHz for example) millimeter-wave arrays could be implemented to obtain better lateral and depth resolution, which would better support privacy algorithms for automatic detection of concealed threats using the system’s millimeter-wave imagery.

threats using the system’s millimeter-wave imagery. Fig. 3. ProVision system from L-3 Communications The

Fig. 3. ProVision system from L-3 Communications

The ProVision system uses a Rotating Target Cylindrical Holographic Imaging Reconstruction [5] technique to form numerous images of the person under surveillance from various different viewing perspectives. This image reconstruction technique uses synthetic imaging software to form three-dimensional images by using a high-speed digital computer. Although the images are three-dimensional in the computer, the imagery is presented in a two-dimensional format to the operator. Additionally, the imagery from multiple viewing angles is combined together to form video animations for viewing various sides of the subject under software controls. The dual surface dielectric depth detector method privacy technique discussed in this paper will require hardware and software modifications to the ProVision system. The ProVision system will need to increase the bandwidth the millimeter-wave arrays to improve depth resolution and implement a different holographic image reconstruction algorithm called the Combined Cylindrical Holographic Radar Imaging technique [6].

3.0 CYLINDRICAL HOLOGRAPHIC RADAR IMAGE RECONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES

PNNL has developed two cylindrical holographic radar imaging reconstruction techniques for use in full-body imaging applications. The initial cylindrical imaging developed was the Rotating Target Cylindrical Reconstruction technique, which was originally developed to eliminate the major disadvantages of the rectilinear imaging system developed by

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PNNL in the early 1990s [7], which was that the rectilinear system could only illuminate the subject from a single fixed direction. Since the human body is opaque to millimeter-waves and has a cylindrical form, a cylindrical scanning approach provided the ideal configuration for screening humans. The cylindrical holographic imaging system allows high-speed data acquisition by rotating one or two seven-foot vertical linear array(s) 360 degrees around the person under surveillance. The cylindrical holographic radar data is sent to a computer and images are formed of the person from various viewing perspectives. The other 3-D cylindrical reconstruction imaging algorithm was developed in the late 1990s and is called the Combined Cylindrical Holographic Reconstruction technique. This technique combines the results of multiple 3-D cylindrical image reconstructions to form a combined image, which contains illumination information from every illumination angle. The combined 3-D image is rendered by projecting through the data set at discrete angles over the full 360-degree angular range. The 3-D combined holographic imaging data provides a full volumetric data set where every pixel has data obtained from all illumination angles. This dramatically reduces shadowing that is present in the original cylindrical imaging technique.

3.1 Rotating Target Cylindrical Reconstruction

The Rotating Target Cylindrical Reconstruction technique only uses 90-degree data segments of the 360 degree cylindrical scan to form an image. A large number of 90-degree segments can be used to form numerous images from various viewing perspectives by slightly shifting the data segment. The image reconstructions are formed from the 90- degree data segments with the illumination centered at the central angle. By using another 90-degree data segment that is offset by a small angle from the original one results in an identical shift in the illumination angle. In this manner, an arbitrarily large number of images can be combined into a smooth video animation in which the person under surveillance appears to rotate slowly in front of a fixed illumination source.

Figure 4 shows the configuration for rotating target cylindrical imaging. Typically a 90-degree segment is extracted from the total 360-degree data set and reconstructed. The reconstructed 3-D volume is always aligned with the center of the cylindrical arc segment. Therefore, as the arc segment used is swept around the subject, the reconstructed images appear to rotate. Video animation can be formed but requires anywhere from 16 to 64 images to form smooth coverage of the subject. Image reconstruction use to be computer intensive with this technique, but with modern computers near real-time reconstruction demands are not a significant limitation. One limitation with this technique is that each frame represents only a portion of the full image due to limited illumination (90-degree segment). The sides of a subject may only be visible when the illumination angle is to the side, but not visible when illuminated from the front. Another limitation is that much of the volumetric information present in each 3-D image reconstruction is eliminated to allow display in the video animation format. This volumetric information may be critical for detecting objects that appear raised from the surface of the body or useful for new privacy algorithm development for automatic threat detection.

algorithm development for automatic threat detection. Fig. 4. Rotating target cylindrical reconstruction

Fig. 4. Rotating target cylindrical reconstruction technique

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3.2 Combined Cylindrical Reconstruction

To overcome the limitations of the Rotating Target Cylindrical Reconstruction technique, the Combined Cylindrical Reconstruction technique was developed. The output of each cylindrical frame reconstruction is three-dimensional (3- D). Combining the three-dimensional reconstructions would allow the formation of a complete 3-D image of the subject illuminated from all angular directions. The images cannot be combined directly since each 3-D image is rotated with respect to the other images. Combination could be performed by mapping (or interpolating) each 3-D image into a fixed 3-D volume. Since this mapping would add to the computational load, a more efficient method was developed. A small modification to the cylindrical reconstruction algorithm allows the target coordinates (x, y, z) to remain fixed while the illumination appears to rotate around the fixed target. This imaging technique is referred to as rotating illumination 3-D cylindrical reconstruction. Rotating illumination reconstruction is ideal for combining the 3-D images since each image is automatically registered with respect to the other frames’ 3-D images. Therefore, the 3-D image reconstructions from each angular swath are simply added to each other to form the combined cylindrical image. This addition is done incoherently (after computing the magnitude) to prevent undesirable phase interference in the images.

The combined cylindrical imaging technique is depicted schematically in Figure 5. The cylindrical data is divided into a number of arc segments, each of which is reconstructed separately and incoherently summed with the others. The resulting 3-D combined image can then be viewed at any desired angle by using rendering techniques. Each angular segment is typically 90 degrees in extent. Overlapping eight 90-degree reconstructions by 45 degrees and adding the resulting 3-D images forms a smooth 3-D combined image as shown in Figure 5a. The smoothness of the combined image is further enhanced by applying a weighting function to each 90-degree segment which gradually reduces the intensity for data away from the central angle. The combined image with fully overlapping weighted segments can be optimized such that there is no indication in the final image that only eight reconstructions were used.

the final image that only eight reconstructions were used. Fig. 5. (a) Combined cylindrical imaging technique.
the final image that only eight reconstructions were used. Fig. 5. (a) Combined cylindrical imaging technique.

Fig. 5. (a) Combined cylindrical imaging technique. (b) Rendering the combined image

The combined image allows a fully illuminated 3-D image to be obtained by using just 8 image reconstructions. This is a dramatic reduction compared with the 32 to 64 image reconstructions performed with the rotating target cylindrical image reconstruction. However, the combined imaging technique requires improved range resolution. For the rotating target system, enough range resolution is required to maintain good depth-of-field or depth-of-focus. This why the ProVision system would need to increase its operational bandwidth (i.e. 20 – 30 GHz) to utilize this cylindrical reconstruction technique. The large disparities between lateral resolution and range resolution create some distortion in the combined image that is not present in the rotating target imagery. In the combined image, poor depth resolution when the subject is illuminated from the sides appears as poor lateral resolution when viewed from the front. The result

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is that the shape and appearance of the subject and concealed objects are distorted. High depth resolution is required to reduce or eliminate this distortion in the combined imaging technique.

3.3 Rendering the 3-D data

The output of the combined cylindrical image reconstruction is a single 3-D image of the subject. This 3-D image data must be rendered into a sequence of two-dimensional images to be viewed by an operator. The rotating target reconstruction algorithm’s output was suitable for rendering directly by performing a maximum value projection on each reconstructed 3-D image.

The combined 3-D image data has been rendered by performing 2-D parallel ray projections for each desired viewing angle, as indicated in Figure 5b. Along each ray path the intensity of the ray is attenuated proportionately to the intensity of the data it encounters. After attenuation, the maximum voxel intensity is chosen to represent the image intensity for that ray. The attenuation factor is adjusted so that the back surface of the data is not visible when viewed from the front. This projection is performed over a sequence of 32 to 64 evenly spaced angles to generate the video animation of the result.

The video animations rendered from the combined data are similar to those obtained with the rotating target reconstruction with some notable improvements. An arbitrarily large number of animation frames can be obtained from the combined 3-D image. The illumination of each voxel or pixel covers the full 360 degree angular range. This dramatically improves the quality of the images by providing more complete coverage of the subject within each frame and reducing the amount of shadowing in the images. The number of frames in which objects are visible is increased relative to the rotating target reconstruction.

Figure 6 shows the combined cylindrical imaging results of a full sized mannequin at 10-20 GHz on the right side. The combined cylindrical imaging results provide a volumetric dataset that can be digitally sliced in software to show cross sections of the body at various heights. Several 2-D slices through the volumetric dataset are shown in Figure 6 at various locations along the body (chest, hips, legs) with and without concealed threats (small hand gun, plastic explosive simulant, hand grenade). The dual surface dielectric depth detector technique will utilize imagery from the volumetric 2-D slices to implement this privacy algorithm technique.

2-D slices to implement this privacy algorithm technique. Fig. 6. Combined cylindrical imaging results of mannequin

Fig. 6. Combined cylindrical imaging results of mannequin (10-20GHz) and 2-D slices through the volumetric data with and without concealed threats

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4.0 DUAL SURFACE DIELECTRIC DEPTH DETECTOR

4.1 Software privacy techniques

Software privacy techniques try to automate the detection of threatening objects concealed on the individuals by reducing or eliminating human viewing of raw image data, since the elimination of presenting raw imagery to human screeners would eliminate any public concern with this screening technology. The goal of software based privacy algorithm techniques is to find concealed objects during millimeter wave security screenings while maintaining privacy rights. Software privacy techniques exploit unique features and characteristics found in the data of the millimeter wave imagery to identify and locate potentially threatening objects or at least anomalous objects. Once found, the detected objects could be digitally mapped with the millimeter-wave imagery features to computer models of idealized people or computer aided design (CAD) models. That way, human features of the person under surveillance would not be displayed to the operators.

4.2 Dual surface dielectric depth detector

This detection technique exploits two qualities of dielectric materials. The first is that some millimeter-wave energy reflection occurs at every interface where the dielectric properties change. When a dielectric (e.g., plastic) object is placed on the body surface, the dielectric will return at least two reflections, unless it is highly absorptive like water. The first reflection is from the front surface at the air-dielectric interface. The remaining millimeter-wave energy will pass through the dielectric material with some possible absorption. When this energy reaches the back surface where the dielectric interfaces either the body or air again, another reflection occurs. This effect produces a double reflection that can be readily seen in the signal after initial processing. This appears as two surfaces in the 2-D sliced data or as two returned peaks in 1-D projected data.

The second quality of dielectric materials is that the millimeter-wave energy propagates through the dielectric material at a slower rate than in free space. This difference in propagation speed is quantified in the index of refraction, which is the square root of the product of the electric permittivity and magnetic permeability of the material. The reduced speed within the dielectric material produces a delay effect on the second reflection that is proportional to the thickness of the material. Visually, this surface appears behind the contour of the body surface. So, an indentation effect is present at the edges of the plastic. This appears as an increased propagation length. This is often called the equivalent air path or in optical systems the optical depth or optical distance. If fully exploited, this second quality could be used to determine the type of material based on its dielectric properties and could be used for object identification.

Figure 7 illustrates the dual surface dielectric depth detector at an overview level. While, depth information can be used in many ways, this detector currently works with z-axis slices (i.e., 2-D slices computed from the 3-D data set with each slice being computed a different height). Parallel lines are projected through the slices. This produces a series of profiles that map intensity versus depth. This detection process looks at the relationship between the peaks in the projections to determine if a dielectric material is hidden beneath the clothing of the person being scanned.

Next, the surfaces must be detected. The surface detection involves the use of various 3-D Laplacian of Gaussian (LoG) edge operators followed by zero-crossing operators. They are suited for locating the edges of the body and dielectrics but require quite of bit of development to be useful with this imagery due to illumination variations. One of the promising techniques for edge detection came from work in segmenting magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) [8,9]. Other approaches that have been studied involve the use of neural networks for determining the edges of structures of dielectrics. It showed some promise, but was not completed

The body surface contour is approximated by the surface detector and marks the locations of the front surface and back surface peaks in the 1-D projections. These peaks should occur at any reflective surface, which includes the surface of the body and the surfaces of any object. In the case of dielectrics, the peak from the body surface will also be present. Next, a peak detection algorithm can be applied to find the front and back of the dielectric in the 1-D projection. If more than two peaks are found representing the front and back surfaces of the body, a decision must be made about any inside peak. The current approach uses a minimum and maximum peak-to-peak distance constraint to find inside peaks. This constraint is determined by the anticipated sizes of dielectric materials that could pose threats. A decision is then made about the possible detection of an object with a combination of rules and statistics, though further development could include other information analysis techniques. The decision process examines the depth of the object along with

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information from other slices and projections to make its determination whether to mark the region as a potential threat. If it is determined that the anomaly is a potential threat, the corresponding region is marked on a silhouette or a wire- frame representation of the person to focus the security screeners attention to the location of the potential threat.

This approach is independent of body symmetry and could work even if a threat object is placed on the axis of symmetry. Its disadvantages are that it will only work with transparent and semi-transparent dielectric materials (e.g., plastics) so requires that it be combined with other anomaly detection techniques to find non-dielectric materials or absorptive dielectric materials such as water.

materials or absorptive dielectric materials such as water. Fig. 7. Basic view of the dual surface

Fig. 7. Basic view of the dual surface dielectric depth detector. In its current implementation, a 3-D data set is processed as 2-D sliced with 1-D projections through the slices. Each projection is then processed to determine if there are dual peaks indicating dual surfaces from a dielectric material. If so, the area is marked as an anomaly and potential threat.

4.3 Dual Surface Dielectric Depth Detector Results

The dual surface dielectric depth detector works within the limitations that the edge/surface detection algorithm and peak detection algorithm are not fully automated and manual manipulation must currently be used in guiding these operations. Figure 8 shows the results of a dual peak detection using a semi-automated approach. It shows a dual peak from a dielectric block simulant explosive scanned at U-band (40 – 60GHz).

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Fig. 8. Semi-automated detection of dielectric block explosive simulant by the dual surface dielectric depth

Fig. 8. Semi-automated detection of dielectric block explosive simulant by the dual surface dielectric depth detector

The center is a view of the horizontal (z-axis) slice of the U-band data set of the right leg of the mannequin shown on the left. On the right is a plot from the centroid of the leg, through the back and front surfaces of the dielectric block. This double peak is indicative of the dielectric. The dotted lines in the center picture represent the surface boundaries found by the Laplacian of Gaussian and zero-crossing surface operators with manual manipulation.

Much work still needs to be done with the dual surface dielectric depth detector before it is useable. Near term work includes refining the method for surface detection and fully automating the centroiding algorithm. Work will be needed in the automated determination of the body region as well since it must be used to guide the centroiding algorithm. Additionally, work needs to be undertaken to map the detected threats from this privacy algorithm to a generic digital template of the human body that reveals no human features. Another recommendation is to explore different dielectric materials with the imaging system and include items of interest or simulants with relatively similar dielectric properties in the millimeter-wave spectrum.

Additional new work could involve expanding this technique to determine the dielectric constant of the detected material by comparing the real depth to the dielectric delayed depth (i.e., optical depth or air equivalent depth). This study would require comparing results determined from this technique to the known dielectric properties of the material (e.g., published measurements, modeled values, or measurements from other techniques).

5.0 CONCLUSIONS

The deployment of millimeter-wave whole body imagers at major airport security checkpoints is on going for both primary and secondary screening operations. The first commercial implementation of this personnel screening technology uses a Rotating Target Holographic Image Reconstruction and a cylindrical scanning configuration with two vertical millimeter-wave arrays. The TSA has mitigated privacy concerns by using software techniques and operational procedures. The software technique used is to blur the facial features in the three-dimensional millimeter-wave imagery. The operational technique used is to display the image to an operator in a remote location so that there is no association with imagery and the person under surveillance. The TSA has reported that over 90% of all the people requested to go through the whole body imager have responded in a positive way. To achieve 100% acceptance of the security technology by the traveling public, it is theorized that automatic threat detection will be required to remove human features from the imager.

With the goal of automatic threat detection in mind, both hardware and software privacy algorithm techniques based on the millimeter-wave imager have been studied and initial work to implement them has begun. The dual surface dielectric depth detector is a promising new software algorithm to removing human features from the millimeter-wave imaging. However, this initial implementation works only on plastic explosive threats. To implement this privacy algorithm, the

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ProVision system from L-3 Communications will need to be modified with wider bandwidth millimeter wave array and the Combined Reconstruction algorithm would need to be implemented to utilize full volumetric data sets and 2- D slices from the imagery.

An exhaustive study illustrating false alarm rate versus detection rate was not been performed in the development of this new privacy algorithm nor were human subjects used, but initial results are given here. The key results for this software privacy techniques is the dual surface dielectric depth detector works within the limitations that the edge/surface detection and the algorithm is not fully automated and manual manipulation must currently be used in guiding the edge/surface detection operation. This privacy algorithm requires additional work to be of practical use.

Additional study needs to be done which would include a complete study of the various physical and software privacy algorithms with human subjects, with desired threats or equivalent simulants, and at the chosen band of operation, and to combine the useful software privacy techniques with the physical privacy techniques to produce an enhanced and robust threat detection and privacy preserving system.

6.0 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of this work from both the FAA and DARPA.

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