Rhea Mahbubani

Machine of Tomorrow with a Mission to Protect Olympic Athletes Today

When it comes to security in Rio, it is man and machine.

Security technology is playing a crucial role at Olympic village – in particular, a Palo Alto-produced machine called Qylatron.

“It looks like Star Wars,” passersby would say as they went through security lines.

To enter Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Village, you first have to make it past Qylatron, a high-tech scanner that’s at least twice as fast as what you see at the airport. It was first used in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, but it’s the first time at an Olympic Games.

“The green door means the cell is available for scanning, and once you close the door, scanning begins,” Qylur Intelligence Systems’ Yair Dolev said.

Once closed, the door light changes to red, which means screening is in process. If it turns purple, that means there is a problem and the doors lock, trapping your belongings inside.

“The more operation you have, the more bags you scan, the more machines working, the stronger they become,” Dolev said.

Dolev says Qylatron uses artificial intelligence and becomes smarter over time. It uses x-ray technology and other sensors to look for explosives, drugs, radioactive materials and other items deemed security threats.

Engineers at Qylur headquarters in Palo Alto teach the machine by putting a variety of items, including weapons, through it.

They also collect data from Qylatron machines around the world to make the system stronger. There is even one at Levi’s Stadium.

Israeli counterterrorism expert Leo Gleser says technology is helping protect these games. His company, International Security and Defense Systems, has trained many of the police and soldiers patrolling the Olympic Games, and brought in Qylur to be a part of its security force in Rio.

“Suspicious materials – you have no access to that,” Gleser said, referring to Qylatron’s locking system once it detects a dangerous device. “This is very important – if you are a criminal, crazy, lone wolf or terrorist, you are going to be out of the elements that you have to make some killings.”

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