In 1995 a professor of the University of Florida had been attending an overseas professional conference. Coming back to the US, he discovered two explosives were planted in his suitcase by foreign authorities to test security measures. Obviously by mistake not removed from his luggage, nevertheless causing problems for him personally. This frustration set him thinking, of technology that could improve the airport security industry.
Meanwhile a German professor, Dr. Hummel, had been working at the University of Florida on optical properties of metals and alloys. Being aware of Dr. Hummel’s work, the professor asked him if his optical technology could improve the airport security industry.
From science to a prototype
Two highly talented students from Dr. Hummel were excited to turn science into an application and obtained their PhDs by doing more research and development on the initial idea. Then Thierry Dubroca and Max Lemaitre joined the engineering effort and developed a demonstration prototype.
This eventually led to the incorporation of the Delta R as a start-up venture to commercialize the newly developed technology. With the help of the American embassy in The Hague and the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, they got in touch with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Schiphol was looking for technology to make their security department more effective and efficient. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to a cooperation yet.
Detecting illicit trace material https://www.sg11.nl/insights/detecting-illicit-trace-material/
From prototype to a commercially viable product
Eventually, the former research and development manager of Schiphol, Gunther van Adrichem, joined forces with new business developers, Wil Ruijsbroek and Michiel Poppink and started Stage Gate 11 to innovate within the airport security industry.
Gunther remembered the Delta R technology and was still convinced of the potential. Stage Gate 11 contacted Thierry Dubroca to carry on the development of the Delta R technology.
From prototype to product
The first focus was the cooperation with the Dutch Customs in their war on drugs in parcels. Customs is forced to screen the postal packages faster and better as the internet trade grows exponential over the years. The pressure to stop the shipping of illegal drug and the recent technological advances resulted in a grant from the Dutch ministry of safety and justice, to further develop the Delta R technology for this specific application.
Although Stage Gate 11 had a working prototype, software needed to be developed along with housing and reviewing of the hardware. To ensure constant progress, the team was broadened with a dedicated software developer and scientists.
Besides detecting drugs, a lot of other forms of application seemed possible, like screening shoes, passengers, passports, etc. Using the Delta R technology as an explosive Shoe Scanner soon became a realistic option.
Delta R as shoe scanner
In March 2017 a first version of the Delta R Shoe Scanner was released. This prototype was used specifically for data capture at a large European airport.
Based on the output of the data capture the Shoe Scanner has been improved and upgraded with a brand-new design. Coming months this upgraded version of the Delta R Shoe Scanner will be trailing at a top 10 European airport.
Alongside the trail, the Delta R team of Stage Gate 11 will be working on optimization of the performance of the Shoe Scanner to enable commercial use of the technology. Naturally, the whole team is looking forward to finally seeing this ambitious idea successfully put to practice for aviation security purposes.