November 9, 2001

Embedded Linux wins over Windows in weapons tracking

Author: JT Smith

Berkeley, CA -- November 8, 2001 -- Researchers and scientists at Quantum Magnetics say the flexibility of the Linux operating system provided a greater benefit than Windows during the development and testing of a new concealed weapons tracking system. Their research is being presented this week at the 5th Annual Linux Showcase & Conference in Oakland, California.

"Linux offers extremely fast boot, relative immunity to power interruption, is scalable from embedded devices to scientific workstations, has a more reliable serial port driver, and copes very well with running on older and smaller computers," said Alexander R. Perry, Quantum Magnetics Developer. "These features give it the ability to reduce cost by permitting the continued usage of older systems."

"This research presents a use of the Linux operating system in a way not traditionally thought of and discusses its practical advantages," said Bryan Andregg, ALS 2001 Program Chair. "This presentation is perfect for our conference program because it touches on a real world problem and provides a valuable, realistic solution."

The weapons tracking system runs on a 24x7 schedule, utilizes the Debian GNU/Linux OS and standard user interfaces to receive data from mounted cameras and sensors and approximate the location of a concealed weapon. The system gives security personnel enough information to focus searches on specific locations or even parts of the body, reducing search time by at least 50 percent. Data is collected by video and converted to a sequence of target coordinates on a computer screen, tracking a potential weapon at a speed of 30 frames per second using the smoother Linux interface. Although much of the data collected is subject to interpretation or deduction by security personnel, it provides enough information to understand what kind of weapon they are facing and minimizes the chances of being attacked.

"If you drive down the road at night and see really bright lights coming the other way, you haven't actually measured where the car is but have no trouble knowing enough about its position to dodge," said Perry. "In the same way, we don't directly measure the position of the weapon but the signature from the sensor suffices to know where it is."

The system has been successfully beta tested by users. Previous designs were independently tested at the National Safe Skies Alliance in Knoxville, Tennessee as well as added to the FAA's list of approved technologies. Already recognized as the most significant development in metal detection technology, the system is applicable beyond airports and government offices, into banking institutions, corporate offices, medical facilities, and other organizations concerned about 24x7 access to their locations.

"This research shows that Linux can be used for real world applications outside of web servers and parallel machines," said Andregg. "The wider adoption of Linux for these kinds of solutions provides a greater financial and technical benefit."

The research is being presented on Friday, November 9, 2001 at ALS 2001 in the Oakland Marriott City Center, Oakland, California. Registration for technical sessions is currently open to the public and available on-site. A detailed program is available online at For more information about Quantum Magnetics, log onto their web site at

The 5th Annual Linux Showcase and Conference
November 5-10, 2001
Oakland Marriott City Center
Oakland, California

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