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Cambridge Consultants unveils in-wall radar imaging system

07 April 2011

Cambridge Consultants has launched Sprint, a prototype handheld device which provides a 3D image of objects embedded within walls or floors. Based on the company's short range radar expertise, Sprint enables an operator to form an image of subsurface structures such as pipes and cables, as well as detecting items of interest such as concealed explosives and contraband, to enhance counter-terrorism and crime prevention search techniques.

Law enforcement and security agencies are constantly facing new challenges as criminals and terrorists look for ever more creative ways to conceal weapons or to smuggle contraband, and the Sprint system has been designed to tackle some of the most challenging threat detection scenarios.

The London 2012 Olympics, for example, will be one of the toughest security challenges seen in the UK to date and security services will want to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for potential threats. Sprint can quickly and easily look inside anything from the floor to the roof, and the handheld system can simply be moved across a surface to build a larger picture. With many new buildings and facilities being developed for the 2012 games, this technology could provide a unique and innovative way of ensuring that they are clear of any threat.

Unlike existing transmission x-ray systems, the radar-based Sprint system does not require access to both sides of the object in order to scan inside, and provides an easily interpreted image of the wall structure, something which compact radar systems have previously not provided. This significantly improves its application potential and can enable much quicker deployment in scenarios where speed can be critical.

"Whereas other options, such as backscatter x-rays, are cumbersome, expensive and power hungry systems, and conventional radar systems have been difficult to interpret, Sprint’s use of radar and processing technology makes it possible to look inside an opaque object or surface from one side safely, cheaply and quickly in a low power, handheld device," commented Sam Pumphrey, Senior Consultant at Cambridge Consultants.

The prototype Sprint device is the equivalent size of a standard sheet of letter paper and 15cm deep, weighing approximately 3.5kg with batteries. It is a multi-channel system, enabling full synthetic aperture processing, and it uses short pulses of energy with high bandwidth to enable the short range, high resolution imaging required. Other potential applications for the technology include industrial inspection, technical search, counter surveillance and a range of military applications.

Cambridge Consultants is currently conducting extensive performance testing to take Sprint beyond the prototype stage and ready it for future commercialisation.

Sprint has been developed to sit alongside Cambridge Consultants’ Prism 200 device. Prism 200 is a handheld through-wall radar, designed to be used by police, special forces or the emergency services. It provides quick and covert intelligence on the movement and location of people in a room or building - without the need for invasive sensors.

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