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Image credit: Royal Holdings

The SWORD is a weapon-detecting smartphone case

Eat your heart out, Clark Kent.
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No matter how stylishly makers dress them up, most smartphone cases are really about one thing: protecting screens from smashing. They're fragile cargo, we get it. Of course, some enterprising companies have taken things further, whipping up cases that transform into Android phones and selfie drones. Now Royal Holdings has jumped into the fray with SWORD, a five ounce phone case that works like a 3D-imaging scanner.

Let's get the drawbacks out of the way first. Right now, SWORD is only compatible with iPhone 8 Plus and Google's Pixel 2XL, so its applications are limited. On the other hand, SWORD can scan individuals from up to 40m away -- non-invasively -- to determine whether they're carrying concealed weapons.

It supposedly does this via a programmable 3D sensor that's able to infiltrate objects using radio waves. SWORD's antennas relay a signal toward an individual and receive returning signals that are subsequently recorded by an integrated circuit. There's also a facial recognition feature that compares a person's face against a watch list, and would alert any attending security officer. Everything happens through a dedicated app and take a fraction of a second.

For all of its superhero associations, SWORD has obvious security benefits. Barry Oberholzer, the CEO of Royal Holdings, says "this type of product doesn't exist right now" but the ramifications for personnel working in airports or restricted areas are promising. If you were planning on buying SWORD, expect to pay a high price. Pre-orders are already open at $950 and you'll need to pay a $30 monthly subscription on top. There's still the question of whether SWORD can uphold all its vows, but we'll know more in spring 2019 when shipments begin.

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