Xpose: An efficient way of exposing explosives and contraband
Xpose helps law enforcement officials, military, customs, and security personnel detect weapons, explosives, drugs, and other types of contraband. Consisting of the Xpose Portable X-ray System (Xpose XP) and the Xpose Contraband Detector, the system can help evaluate small parcels, airport baggage, cargo, aircraft walls and wings, buildings, crates and any other items where illegal contraband or explosives can be tucked away. The XP is a portable multi-functional imaging unit, while the Contraband Detector is a handheld device that alerts on anomalies. The Xpose XP recently won a 2020 Edison Award, which recognizes “excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation.”
To learn more about Xpose, we talked to Doug Ramsayer, business development manager.
Q: How did the Xpose system evolve?
Ramsayer: The Xpose Contraband Detector is a lightweight, rugged handheld density meter that alerts law enforcement officials about hidden contraband when scanned across the surface of a target.
The newest, award-winning Xpose XP is especially useful when explosive devices might be in play. We designed this product to be scalable, affordable (at about $30,000), and portable, which is somewhat of a unique combination. You have highly portable systems that tend to be expensive, and then you have systems that are affordable or scalable, but not very portable. We hit a sweet spot for both. The XP design emerged out of our deep ties with the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community, market research, and competitive analysis. It helps law enforcement, military, customs, and security personnel to search for and render-safe explosives, weapons, narcotics, and other contraband.
The Xpose XP uses a generator to shoot X-rays at a target. An imager collects and digitizes the result and returns an image back to an operator over a cabled or wireless connection. Security personnel can remotely diagnose, troubleshoot, and plan how to render-safe the target. The Xpose XP system provides multi-mission flexibility, capturing both small and large targets.
Q: How is Xpose XP especially useful for bomb units?
Ramsayer: Bomb-defusing personnel wants to be as far away from the target as they can to troubleshoot suspicious threats. They can use either cables or a Wi-Fi signal to relay the X-ray results back to the command team. But long cables are not always possible. And in situations where IEDs or other explosives might be at play, the RF signal from Wi-Fi can interfere with IEDs and lead to unintended consequences.
The Xpose system features removable media, passive plates that will simply store the image. This is known in the trade as computed radiography, where the system saves the images to be processed later at a more convenient time and location. So you don’t have to worry about relaying images, they can be done offsite. You set up the target capturing process once and stand back at a safe distance and acquire your image.
Q: Why is the Xpose XP's portability an advantage?
Ramsayer: Traditional checkpoint systems mandate that the targets come to them. The Xpose XP can be dismounted and brought to the target. The whole unit weighs less than 12 pounds, so you can walk it to the target you want imaged.
That opens up a whole new world of possibilities: a suspicious package left outside an office, remote checkpoint areas. Let’s say you’re away from a port of entry, and you intercept a vehicle, and you don’t want to bring the vehicle back hundreds of miles to an inspection station. You could quickly assemble the Xpose XP and conduct your inspection in a matter of minutes, unlike more manually intensive methods.
Q: How does the Xpose XP provide multi-mission flexibility?
Ramsayer: Targets vary in size from small to large. Traditionally, bomb squads and other field personnel used to be limited by the size of their radiation and imaging apparatus. To fully image a large target, bomb squads would have to take multiple shots from multiple angles, risking their lives, and then use complicated software packages to stitch all the images together.
The Xpose XP has a new capability that we didn’t offer before: the ability to scale to the size of the target. Instead of having to limit the size of exposure to the size of the imager and the electronic system, we allow you to create a single mosaic panel made up of up to 12 additional plates to cover the larger targets you need to be done. Personnel set up the panel downrange from the X-ray source, take one image and break down the panel plates for processing later. You get better and faster image acquisition this way.
The reverse is also true. The scanner can double as a real-time imager. The personnel can place the scanner behind a smaller target like a backpack. You shoot X-rays at the imager, and the imager scans it in about 20 seconds and sends that image back to the operator’s laptop or tablet for faster processing. You can do real-time imaging for smaller targets and single shots covering larger targets, all without having to repeatedly go near the suspicious device.
Q: The Xpose XP software provides a variety of touch-enabled features. Why is that an advantage?
Ramsayer: These tools allow you to digitally manipulate the images to get what you need out of them. You can annotate, draw circles, measure the distance between points. You can calculate factors like grid aim, which helps bomb disposal professionals to disrupt critical circuits and render-safe explosive devices. Such tools help users see things that might not be obvious from just the native picture.
Q: How does the Xpose Contraband Detector work?
Ramsayer: It’s a small handheld unit that’s 20% lighter than other contraband detectors and designed for ambidextrous operation. It features a large, easy-to-read display and is especially useful in detecting contraband that is covertly stored in inaccessible and hidden areas, such as tires, overhead compartments, and car panels.
It has been commercially available for five years now and helps customs agents scan vehicle tires, for example, to see if they have any contraband. It works as a density meter – if you can scan the outside of a vehicle, any change in density can alert you to a problem. So if the tire’s full of contraband, it’s going to be a very high-density reading.
Q: What are the overall goals of the Xpose system of products?
Ramsayer: The idea is to build a family of products that provides lightweight, fast and affordable ways to conduct non-intrusive inspection.
For more information on Xpose, please visit, www.leidos.com/xpose