At a terminal being renovated here at Love Field, contractors are installing 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt.
The cameras, capable of tracking passengers from the parking garage to gates to the tarmac, are a key first step in creating what the airline industry would like to see at airports worldwide: a security apparatus that would scrutinize passengers more thoroughly, but less intrusively, and in faster fashion than now.
It's part of what the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, which represents airlines globally, calls "the checkpoint of the future."
The goal is for fliers to move almost non-stop through security from the curb to the gate, in contrast to repeated security stops and logjams at checkpoints.
After checking their luggage, passengers would identify themselves not with driver's licenses and paper boarding passes, but by scanning fingerprints or irises to prove they have an electronic ticket.
Passengers would walk with their carry-ons through a screening tunnel, where they'd undergo electronic scrutiny — replacing what now happens at as many as three different stops as they're scanned for metal objects, non-metallic items and explosives.
Passengers would no longer have to empty carry-ons of liquids and laptops before putting them on conveyor belts for X-ray scans. They could keep their belts and shoes on. They could avoid a backlog at full-body scanners and a finger swab for explosive residue.
If screeners notice anything suspicious, a passenger would still be pulled aside and possibly patted down. But otherwise, passengers are supposed to reach their gates faster. And machines that accomplish each part of this transformation already exist or are in development.
The changing technology, combined with new screening tactics and changes at airports like the ones under construction here at Love Field, could make the checkpoint of the future a reality in a decade, the airlines say.
"This isn't really science fiction that we're talking about," says Ken Dunlap, IATA's global director of security...