Aug
08
2007

Shining light on the dark side: Light saber device can disable bad guys

Lights out: This fancy flashlight -- the LED Incapacitator -- could be a new tool for Homeland Security in dealing with terrorists or criminals. The unit puts out varying intensities and colors of light that can disorient and fall a suspect, giving law enforcment time to subdue them. (Photo from Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc.)
Lights out: This fancy flashlight -- the LED Incapacitator -- could be a new tool for Homeland Security in dealing with terrorists or criminals. The unit puts out varying intensities and colors of light that can disorient and fall a suspect, giving law enforcment time to subdue them. (Photo from Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc.)
The U.S. Homeland Security Department is going “Star Wars” in its newest effort to find ways to quickly and efficiently disable terrorists or other criminal elements.

The unit – called a LED Incapacitator – will be going under tests this fall with a target date for use by law enforcement units in 2010. And while it might not have the cutting power of Luke or Darth Vader’s light sabers, the LED Incapacitator might be able to knock suspects to the ground with a simple flash of light.

"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," according to a description of the device from the Homeland Security Department's science and technology division.

How will it work? An officer holds the unit just like a flashlight and aims the lens at the suspects face. Flicking the switch starts a series of intense light bursts of varying intensities and colors that can temporarily blind or disorient and even drop the suspect. The impact can be so intense the person being “beamed” can feel vertigo or nausea. Some developers have termed the LED Incapacitator the “puke-ray.”

Of course, there a host of other issues coming up with the development of this technology. The U.S. has signed on years ago to a U.N. treaty that bans the development of weapons that permanently blind suspects. The LED Incapacitator only causes temporary blindness.

And some are already asking questions about if the units become available to the black market and fall into the hands of the wrong people.

So what do you think of the “puke-ray?” Should U.S. Homeland Security continue its development of the unit or is this too risky of a weapon? Share your opinions here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Anything we can do to stop the bad guys while not endangering innocent bystanders should be developed to its full potential regardless of those who would criticize. perhaps those critics should meet up with some bad guys to see what it's really like - then perhaps they'd agree that "anything" that really works should be part of the arsenal.

posted on Wed, 08/08/2007 - 1:26pm
Tsuyoshi's picture
Tsuyoshi says:

With regards to being attacked, I'd much rather have someone stick a 'puke-ray' in my face than a pistol. Furthermore, in the private sector, this could provide a much safer method of home security and defense for those who prefer not to own a firearm or who have children in the house. Certainly, it should be regulated like any other weapon, but on the whole, this is a great technology!

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 9:46am
Jason's picture
Jason says:

you mean to tell me you wouldnt WHANT lightsabers/?? wow i think it would be cool....

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 1:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I completely agree. This will assist law enforcement, and should be fully developed.

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i dont really know what to say. but my brother would really like to have lightsabers in the world. as for me it'd be cool but it would just make the world more violent. so as for my case im leaning more to a no then a yes. but its not a complete no.

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 4:20pm
Dude's picture
Dude says:

Lightsabers came from Star Wars. Right there, you know that they're awesome

posted on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 4:33pm
Stormhelm's picture
Stormhelm says:

Go for it and to the dump heap with critics. They have delayed and/or set back so many effective things that enough is enough... soo, go for it!!!!

posted on Wed, 08/15/2007 - 12:49pm
mycatbubbles's picture

I find the idea great and I do hope it does NOT get on the black market because that would be a big down fall for any police or the goverment that will have these things. Think of what would happen if say killers got hold of them. Any one they get might be as good as dead. So I think they are great as long as they don't get on the black market.

posted on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 9:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Fantastic idea! Should be so much safer for homes with children so there are no handguns in the house.

posted on Fri, 09/07/2007 - 2:36pm
Jim's picture
Jim says:

If police build toys to catch bad guys, sometimes I wonder who controls the police so we don't see an out brake of jurisdiction vs public opinion.

posted on Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:22am

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