Computer Science

Earth Science









Sign-up for FTK Bulletin


Tracking Travelers at the Airport

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Right now there are some 4,000 planes in the air. Two million people will fly on one today. That's 735 million a year. With all those flights come all those long lines at the airport. Knowing peak wait times could get passengers to the gate sooner. Now, a simple cell phone signal can help travelers get through security faster.

You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player. Click here to download and install it.

It can be anyone's guess how long wait times are at airport security checkpoints. Some travelers whizz through security.

"I've been lucky," one traveler told Ivanhoe. "I'm sure other people have horror stories to tell."

While others aren't so lucky…

"I fly into Tampa, Florida quite a bit and there has been delays and long lines," another traveler complained.

In recent months, passengers have seen more pat-downs and bag searches at many airports, which can bog down security lines. Now, Darcy Bullock, Ph.D., a civil engineer at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., uses cell phone signals to track travelers and help airports reduce wait times.

"We can estimate or quantify how long it takes to get through the security line," Dr. Bullock explained.

Researchers placed electronic reader boxes at the beginning and end of a security lobby in an airport. The boxes record Bluetooth signals from cell phones of ticketed travelers, and monitor the time it takes passengers to travel through security lines. In Indianapolis, wait times peaked at 20 minutes at 6 am, then dropped to about 6 minutes during the day.

"The benefit if this technique gets adopted by other airports, would give a tool for authorities to say, 'Okay, how are we going to allocate resources between airports to most effectively address where we may have the longest wait times?'" Dr. Bullock said.

The information can help better manage congested airports, and help passengers avoid those long lines.

For privacy, researchers recorded only part of passenger's Bluetooth signal. It's like capturing only part of someone's license plate.

The American Society of Civil Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Darcy Bullock, P.E.
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47905
(765) 494-2226

The American Society of Civil Engineers
Leikny Johnson
Reston, VA 20191-4400
(703) 295-6413

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Pender McCarter


This Month's TV Reports
Replacing Eyes, Nose, Ears and Fingers

Is it real or is it fake? Making body parts so life-like even your mother can’t tell the difference! You won’t want to miss this story! The before shots in this story are shocking, but the end results are amazing!


Lymph Node Transplant after Breast Cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with it. Now, a transplant is giving breast cancer survivors pain-free lives after chemo.


Fishy Cure for Hearing Loss: Medicine’s Next Big Thing?

A tiny Zebra Fish could hold the key to giving 30 million people their hearing back.


Smart Doctors Office: Back to the Future

One woman doctor defies the odds and runs her office all by herself. But can she be as effective as a bigger office with more people? She can and she does! How this doctors office of the past, could cut our health care costs in the future.


Workout While you Work

Walk while you work! A new treadmill desk may be the hottest new way to spend your day at the office.


Making a Blockbuster

It takes a lot more than superstar actors to make a Hollywood hit. We’ll share the secret behind the movies.


Basketball: Bias Refs?

Coaches, players and fans who think refs make unfair calls might be right. We’ll break down the numbers and show you how the refs can affect the score.


Tracking Travelers At The Airport

Cell phones signals may be the best way to track travelers at the airport and warn you before you leave the house if the lines are long.


Predicting the Next Quake

New laser mapping technology could predict the next big natural disaster and help to save millions of lives.


Car Parts Made Out of Coconuts?

125 million cars are on the road today. That’s billions of pounds of steel and glass. Now, there’s a new movement to replace some car parts with coconuts.


Can You Hear Me Now?

203 million Americans have one … and almost all of us have to deal with dropped calls. A new super chip may keep you out of the dead zone forever.


Garden Greener

There’s a way to have a garden without watering it all the time. It’s called Xeriscaping and it can help you save money, go green and grow flowers all at the same time.


Prior Reports
A joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics.
  Ivanhoe Broadcast News
2745 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 740-0789

American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 19740-3843
(301) 209-3100
  P.O. Box 865
Orlando, Florida 32802
  © 2010 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.