#1371: SayScan

People who spend their working lives scrutinising images from baggage scanning machines, need all the help they can get (as well as a doubling of their pay rate).

It seems that if you are prompted by hearing words, you tend to be more effective at detecting related items.

Today’s invention is therefore an MP3 recording which randomly says words like “wires”,”blade”,”drugs” etc to a person engaged in this task, so that they will maintain vigilance and improve the chances of discovering illicit baggage contents.


  1. I saw a similar idea used in a lab doing drug testing. Samples were placed in the instrument which played a simple familiar tune. If a test result was not normal, the notes of the tune were modified so the tune sounded distorted. The lab tech could select different tunes so he would not go crazy.

    • Fascinating. On a related issue, my supervisor Fergus Campbell once told me about some people working for IBM’s fabrication plant who were encouraged to chat when inspecting wafers for minute flaws. Instead of scrutinising each as it passed their station, they viewed the wafers in their visual periphery, almost casually. Despite this, they had a phenomenal fault detection accuracy which fell if they were told to pay close attention to the passing wafers.

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