ISCON Imaging hopes revamped market strategy will pay dividends

April 15, 2015
Company changes its focus from aviation security to loss prevention

It’s not every day that a security company undergoes a complete shift in the markets that it decides to tailor its technology to, but that’s exactly what the management team at ISCON Imaging has done under the leadership of new CEO Bill Gately. ISCON uses infrared imaging in the form of both a full-body scanner, as well as a handheld unit, to detect objects on people. The company has been in business for about eight years and initially focused on delivering solutions to the aviation market.

Since Gately took over about 18 months ago, however, the company has shifted that market focus to what it feels is an underserved market in the retail distribution space. 

“There are two areas that we are really focused on: One is loss prevention, which of course is removal of items from a distribution center and the other one, which has really come on really strong, I would say even more so in the last six months is employee safety. That is, of course, screening people coming into a facility to make sure that they are not bringing either weapons, contraband or anything else that could be harmful to employees onsite,” said Gately.

Although infrared imaging in and of itself is not a new technology to the security market, Gately said what is unique about ISCON is the way is which they use it.

“All other applications for infrared imaging are used at a distance. We are the only company in the world that actually uses IR for what I call ‘up close and personal’ screening of people,” explained Gately. “The way we do that, is we use a high-resolution IR camera, but one of our core patents revolves around the use of a heated or cooled air supply and that is specifically used to disturb the thermal equilibrium that exists when somebody puts something on themselves.”

For example, if an employee at a distribution center decided to sneak a cellphone out on their body, it would be quickly spotted by one of ISCON’s IR cameras due to the difference in temperature between the object and the person’s body. Alternatively, if someone takes merchandise and hides it on themselves long enough to where the temperature of the object acclimates to the person’s body temperature, an IR camera may not see be able to see at all which is why ISCON also has an air blower system to help make these objects appear more readily.

“We blow a very low velocity heated or cooled air stream over your body right before we look at you with the camera and what that does is it very quickly disturbs that thermal equilibrium and, low and behold, that phone will jump right out again,” said Gately. “We are material agnostic so we are looking for a temperature difference – a hundreds of a degree difference – and it doesn’t take much for us to see something. Because we are looking at a thermal image, we can detect clothing or soft goods, metals, woods, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, or gem stones.”

While many facilities already have implemented metal detectors, Gately said a lot of the high-value merchandise that organizations are trying to protect oftentimes don’t have metal in them or if they do, sometimes it is not enough to trigger the detector.

Also, unlike full-body scanners deployed at airports, ISCON’s technology doesn’t run into the either the health concerns stemming from the formerly used backscatter X-ray that emitted trace amounts of radiation and is now only used for baggage or the privacy issues generated by the millimeter wave devices that are widely used for people screening today.

“We are the only technology available that can show you an image of what it is you’re dealing with. That’s because we don’t actually see through your clothing, but what we look at is a very high-resolution thermal image of the surface of your clothing and anything that is imprinted on the back of your clothing,” said Gately.

According to Gately, that technology can help retail distribution centers in several ways: First, there are no safety-related issues to employees from being scanned by ISCON’s technology and second, it greatly reduces employer concerns about the potential of profiling and discrimination.

“For instance, if you walk through a metal detector and it alarms and you pull out a hand wand and it also alarms, you can’t see what it is that is causing the alarm,” added Gately. “It is very challenging for the security personnel to make a decision of, ‘do I pull this person out of line for an inquiry?’ If you do that and half an hour later you discover that this person had a belly button piercing, they are now embarrassed and angry and they file a discrimination claim. The first question their attorney is going to ask is what probable cause did you have to pull my client into the room? If the only answer is a ‘beep,’ then that’s a weak answer. A lot of companies today, if push comes to shove, they let the employee walk.”

In addition with not having to navigate the big bureaucracy that is the aviation sector, another reason Gately said he wanted to move the company towards distribution centers was because he believes that ISCON’s technology is better suited as a secondary or even random screening method, which is exactly how it is being used in loss prevention applications today.

“I think it is a much better all-around model for us and it has proved to be that. And there was nobody in that space other than metal detectors,” he said. “Most of these companies we find are really grappling with this. Some of these big distribution centers have no security.”  

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief,

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.