Multimodal Remote Detection of Hidden Threats in People Screening (HITD)

In recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, terrorists used weapons and explosive vests to kill or injure as many people possible. To effectively foil such attacks, one must identify perpetrators from a distance and stop them before they reach dense crowds. This is not possible using current means. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), this project aims to develop an integrated and automated system for detecting potential dangers posed by objects/items hidden on a person’s body. To achieve this, a combination of terahertz wave technology and optical sensors is used to detect perpetrators and weapons up to 50 meters away. This enables security personnel to intervene earlier – even before perpetrators realise they have been screened and their threat potential assessed.
Since inception, HITD’s technical side has developed alongside legal research aiming to ensure regulatory compliance, identifying and answering relevant legal questions on the technology’s use and results. More specifically, by using a combination of doctrinal analysis and statutory interpretation, this project examines the relationship between modern technologies and the protection of personality and privacy rights. As such, it engages the second and third levels of the Department’s research agenda, focusing on the progressive digitization of public security and its potential threats to individual rights and democratic legitimacy.
Legal research outcome: legal report on project implications for personality and privacy rights (2021).
HITD joint partners: supracon AG (Jena), Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technologie (Jena), Centre for Security and Society at the Albert-Ludwigs-University (Freiburg), and the Zentrum für Bild- und Signalverarbeitung e.V. (Ilmenau). Associated partners are the German Federal Police (Lübeck) and Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG (Munich).
Research funding: HITD is funded by the BMBF within the framework of the funding guideline ‘KMU-innovativ: Forschung für die zivile Sicherheit’ with a total of 1.3 million Euros under the funding code: 13N14714. It constitutes part of the BMBF's framework programme ‘Research for Civil Security’ (
Official project description: (German only).