What the military-industrial complex is doing may make you want to throw up — literally. -- Researchers at Penn State’s Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technologies have invented handheld devices “using light-emitting diodes to emit super-bright pulses of light at rapidly changing wavelengths, causing disorientation, nausea and even vomiting,” reported FOX News, which disarmingly dubs them “puke-sabers” or “barf-beamers.” -- Phase 1 of the contract — creating a working prototype — has already been completed, and Phase 2 will begin this fall as researchers at Penn State's Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology put the puke-saber through its paces.” -- The operation of the device, called a “LED Incapacitator,” and its inventors (Bob Lieberman and Vladimir Rubtsov) were described in greater detail in the July number of a publication of the Dept. of Homeland Security called S & T Snapshots. -- We don’t know about you, but this is not the first time a Lieberman has done things that make us upchuck....
FLASHLIGHT WEAPON MAKES TARGETS THROW UP
August 7, 2007
It looks like a big flashlight -- but it's really a nonlethal weapon designed to make you sick.
Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., of Torrance, Calif., has been granted a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to develop what it calls the "LED Incapacitator," according to a DHS online newsletter.
The handheld device using light-emitting diodes to emit super-bright pulses of light at rapidly changing wavelengths, causing disorientation, nausea and even vomiting in whomever it's pointed at.
• Click here to read the newsletter writeup. [See #2 below.]
"There's one wavelength that gets everybody," says IOS President Bob Lieberman. "Vlad [IOS top scientist Vladimir Rubtsov] calls it 'the evil color.'"
Phase 1 of the contract -- creating a working prototype -- has already been completed, and Phase 2 will begin this fall as researchers at Penn State's Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology put the puke-saber through its paces.
"Phase 3 will be our shrink phase," Lieberman said, admitting that the prototype, 15 inches long with a 4-inch lens, is too large and heavy to be comfortably carried on a belt.
DHS hopes to equip police, Border Patrol agents and National Guardsmen with the barf-beamers by 2010.
ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU SICK
S & T Snapshots: Science Stories for the Homeland Security Enterprise
[PHOTO CAPTION: A later version of the LED Incapacitator, featuring a trimmer head.]
[PHOTO CAPTION: An animated cross section shows how red, green, and blue LEDs are focused through an optical plate.]
Its inventors call it the LED Incapacitator (L-E-D, as in light-emitting diode). Weapons buffs call it a nonlethal weapon. But test subjects who have buckled and reeled from its nauseating strobe call it other names -- none printable.
A flashlight designed to make you nauseatingly ill? What fiendish minds would invent such a tool? The minds of Bob Lieberman and Vladimir Rubtsov, president and senior scientist of Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., a small R&D company in Torrance, CA. Under a multiphase contract from the S&T Directorate’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Office, with technical direction from S&T program manager Gerald Kirwin, the two physicists are refining an ultra-bright, multicolored, pulsing “lightsaber” that’s more disorienting, dazzling, and dizzying -- though a tad less dangerous -- than disco. It’s enough to make you sick. And that, Lieberman says, is not always a bad thing.
How does the LED Incapacitator incapacitate? By simultaneously overwhelming the subject both physiologically (temporarily blinding him) and psychophysically (disorienting him). A built-in rangefinder measures the distance to the nearest pair of eyeballs. Then, a “governor” sets the output and pulse train (a series of pulses and rests) to a level, frequency, and duration that are effective, but safe. The colors and pulses continuously change, leaving no time for the brain or eyes to adapt. After a few minutes, the effects wear off.
The light could be used to make a bad guy turn away or shut his eyes, giving authorities enough time to tackle the suspect and apply the cuffs . . . all while sparing the lives of passersby, hostages, or airline passengers.
“There are often confrontations at border crossings with suspected illegal aliens or drug runners,” Lieberman says. “You don’t want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody. With this,” he smiles, “they don’t need to know English to comply.”
Output and size can easily be scaled up to fit the need; immobilizing a mob, for instance, might call for a wide-angle “bazooka” version. Scaling down is more difficult. At 15 inches long by 4 inches wide, the current prototype is more transportable than portable. The next-generation weapon must be as short and svelte as a D-cell Maglite, designed to fit on a duty belt. “Phase 3 will be our shrink phase,” Lieberman says.
This fall, in Phase 2, researchers at Pennsylvania State University will test the LED Incapacitator on volunteers at the school’s Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology. Intelligent Optical Systems will use the test results to evaluate design features and tweak the strobe’s pattern and colors. “There’s one wavelength that gets everybody,” says Lieberman. “Vlad calls it the evil color.” Further tests are scheduled for the fall, and production could begin by December. By 2010, the LED Incapacitator could be in the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents, and National Guardsmen.
—S&T Snapshots is a monthly newsletter produced by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate in partnership with the Homeland Security Institute. HSI is a Studies and Analysis Federally Funded Research and Development Center.