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  1. Science and Technology Directorate
  2. News Room
  3. News Release: DHS Award to Develop Handheld Screening Device

News Release: DHS Awards $2M to Small Business to Develop Handheld Advanced Detection Imaging Technology

Release Date: July 19, 2021

S&T Public Affairs, 202-254-2385

Washington, D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program awarded nearly $2 million in funding to two small businesses to develop an advanced, affordable, and compact handheld passenger screening device to help secure aviation against evolving threats.

“We need to continue evolving our passenger screening technologies with automated, high-performing, easy-to-use devices in order to quickly and effectively detect threats at airports and other screening venues,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The handheld advanced detection and imaging efforts being developed will address the critical need for a more robust and modernized screening device that is affordable and convenient and that can work in a variety of environments and situations.” 

Spectral Labs Inc. (Spectral Labs), headquartered in San Diego, California, and TeraMetrix LLC (TeraMetrix), headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, each received approximately $1 million in SBIR Phase II funding to develop handheld advanced detection/imaging technology system solutions. The DHS SBIR Program, administered by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), selected Spectral Labs and TeraMetrix to participate in Phase II, the program subsequent to successful demonstration of feasibility in Phase I.

Under Phase II, Spectral Labs will continue their research and development efforts to produce and test the prototype of a compact and transportable handheld anomaly recognition tool capable of effectively locating anomalies in or under clothing of personnel passing through checkpoints and detecting a broad variety of threats, including explosives and non-metallic threats. TeraMetrix, will further their research and development efforts to produce and test a prototype handheld millimeter-wave advanced threat detection and imaging wand.

“Successful development and implementation of these wand technologies will improve passenger experience and reduce burden and pat-downs by transportation security officers, while at the same time enabling more thorough screenings,” said Karl Harris, Ph.D., S&T Screening at Speed Project Manager. “Through the DHS S&T SBIR program, we are pursuing the development of two approaches for new handheld scanners using newly-available and low-cost 5G electronics and automotive radar devices.”

“We are proud to partner with the Screening at Speed program and work together to advance checkpoint security capabilities,” said Dusty Lang, DHS SBIR Program Director.  “Their track record of success using the SBIR Program is the result of a thoughtful deliberate approach to utilizing small business innovation.”

At the completion of the 24-month Phase II contract, SBIR awardees will have developed a prototype to demonstrate the advancement of technology, spearheading the potential for Phase III funding.

Under Phase III, SBIR performers will seek to secure funding from private sector and/or non-SBIR government sources, with the eventual goal to commercialize and bring to market the technologies from Phases I and II.

Register now for the Deconstructing SBIR: Other Agency Technology Solutions (OATS) RFI webinar on July 20, 2021, 12:30–1:00 p.m. ET. During this webinar, viewers will have a chance to hear from three DHS Component representatives and DHS SBIR Program Director Dusty Lang about the needs in the three RFI topic areas.

For more information on the DHS SBIR Program, visit: https://oip.dhs.gov/sbir/public or contact STSBIR.Program@hq.dhs.gov. Visit the DHS SBIR Success Stories page to see past projects and visit our Deconstructing SBIR webinar series page for more on the program.

For more information on S&T’s innovation programs and tools, visit:


Last Updated: 02/23/2022
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