Airport Scanner, available for Android and iOS, gives players the responsibilities of a TSA agent scanning virtual bags for contraband. According to data pulled from the game and examined in a recent study, rare threats are far less likely to be noticed than the common ones.
"By assessing search performance across millions of trials from the Airport Scanner smartphone application, we demonstrated that the detection of ultra-rare items was disturbingly poor," the study reads. " ... Ultra-rare items had catastrophically low detection rates relative to targets with higher frequencies."
One of the paper's authors, Adam Biggs, is working with the TSA to conduct research to determine the cognitive differences of an actual agent vs. a player.
"This is the first visual search experiment to include targets so rare they parallel actual cancer rates," Biggs told Slate. "It's a mammoth amount of data."