The Homeland Security Department showed off on Thursday an early version of physiological screeners, which could spot terrorists.

The futuristic machine works on the similar theory like in polygraph. It looks sharp wings in breathing, pulse and body temperature that signal a kind of anxiety that is exuded by a would-be criminal or terrorist. The FAST or Future Attribute Screening Technology scans people walking by a set of cameras.

According to Jennifer Martin, a consultant in Science and Technology division of Homeland Security, "We're picking up things with sensors that can't necessarily be detected by the human eye".

This five-year project is the latest effort of the department to thwart terrorism through spotting suspicious people. The TSA or Transportation Security Administration has trained over 2,000 screeners to observe passengers walking through the airports, and to question those who seem oddly nervous or agitated.

The system would be fast and portable, said Robert Burns, the project manager, who envisions machines which can scan people as they are walking into airports, arenas, and train stations. According to Timothy Levine, an expert on deceptive behaviour from Michigan State University, though the machines exactly spot someone whose heart rate suddenly jumps, it may signal the agitation of learning that a flight is delayed.

"What determines your heart rate is a whole bunch of reasons besides hostile intent", said Levine. "This is the whole reason behavioural profiles don't work".

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