Over the last year, Orlando airport (MCO) has run a Registered Traveler Program using technology from Verified Identity Pass, Inc. (along with Lockheed Martin). Using biometric cards, the participants in the pilot program average 4 seconds (up to reaching the X-ray machine) compared to over 4 minutes for the average passenger in the TSA line. In San Francisco (SFO) they recently tested the "Checkpoint of the future" using GE scanner technology - where you can leave keys in your pocket, laptops in their cases on etc.
TSA plans to roll it out the Registered Traveler program to many more airports starting this summer. Unisys and EDS are running pilots at other airports.
Enrollment is expected to cost around $ 100 a passenger - but if it catches on could drive new forms of biometric security around credit cards, laptops and other applications. Of course, it is also raising a number of privacy questions.
As the Airport Technology site shows in addition to the aging x-ray machines, there are a new generation of detection and scanning, surveillance and monitoring, intrusion detection and other technology increasingly in use at airports.
In the near future, we should be able to print boarding passes at home, park, check any baggage at a self-service kiosk and walk to the plane without being asked to show our id's multiple times, remove our shoes, get to the airport hours in advance. Darn, just when I finally had that routine down pat!