New security scanners being tested at Melbourne Airport from Wednesday bring new meaning to the word transparency – they can see through people’s clothing.

Trials of the new scanners will also be conducted at Adelaide and Sydney domestic terminals beginning later this month.

At this stage, travellers will have a choice on whether they want to be screened by the scanners.

George Brenan (Brenan), acting director of the Office of Airport Security, said the image produced by the Rapiscan whole body scanner was not explicit and was more like a chalk outline of a body, even though genitals and breasts could be seen.

He said during the test, male screeners would look at male travellers and a female screeners would check the images of women travellers.

Those doing the screening cannot see the people being screened and faces on the images are blurred.

“It’s not like a photograph of a naked person – the image is more like a chalked outline of a person,” Brenan said.

“It’s not an image that, I think, most people would find intrusive.

“We don’t think it’s necessarily more intrusive than being patted down but it depends on how people feel.”

Other technology on trial is a new hand luggage screener which is more efficient at revealing articles such as explosives and a hand-held liquid screening device which can detect components in liquids and gels that could be converted into explosives.

Brenan said the six week trial would decide if the new technology would replace the screening currently used at airports; if it would become a secondary test to detect weapons and dangerous liquids; or if the technology would be used at all.

He said the actual radiation levels of the new scanners were very low.

The dosage from one body scan is 400 times less than a single medical X-ray and it would take 10,000 scans to reach the maximum level of safe radiation recommended in a year.