Detecting Bombs in X-Ray Images of Hold Baggage: 2D Versus 3D Imaging
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Objective: This study compared the visual inspection performance of airport security officers (screeners) when screening hold baggage with state-of-the-art 3D versus older 2D imaging. Background: 3D imaging based on computer tomography features better automated detection of explosives and higher baggage throughput than older 2D X-ray imaging technology. Nonetheless, some countries and airports hesitate to implement 3D systems due to their lower image quality and the concern that screeners will need extensive and specific training before they can be allowed to work with 3D imaging. Method: Screeners working with 2D imaging (2D screeners) and screeners working with 3D imaging (3D screeners) conducted a simulated hold baggage screening task with both types of imaging. Differences in image quality of the imaging systems were assessed with the standard procedure for 2D imaging. Results: Despite lower image quality, screeners’ detection performance with 3D imaging was similar to that with 2D imaging. 3D screeners revealed higher detection performance with both types of imaging than 2D screeners. Conclusion: Features of 3D imaging systems (3D image rotation and slicing) seem to compensate for lower image quality. Visual inspection competency acquired with one type of imaging seems to transfer to visual inspection with the other type of imaging. Application: Replacing older 2D with newer 3D imaging systems can be recommended. 2D screeners do not need extensive and specific training to achieve comparable detection performance with 3D imaging. Current image quality standards for 2D imaging need revision before they can be applied to 3D imaging.