BEAMING pain and confusion

          It's inevitable, once someone mutters the term "lasers," images of space fighters, the infamous "Goldfinger" table scene and scientists adorned with bulky goggles and lab coats come to mind.      While the science fiction and...


     Announced at this year's Memorial Day parade in New York, Laser Energetic's Dazer Lasers discharge a modulating green beam meant to temporarily impair a threat's vision, equilibrium, awareness and causes nausea. When hit in the eyes, the effects take place immediately — even penetrating the eyelid if the threat closes his eyes, yet another reaction to aid in controlling the suspect. While the reactions are different, like Silent Guardian, "being dazed" begins to disappear once removed from the beam. Vision impairment and imbalance can last up to 30 seconds while the nausea may last longer.

     One key feature of the Dazer Laser is that it remains eye-safe at all ranges meeting the American National Standard Institute standard (Z136.1-2000) for the safe use of lasers. The beam consists of a visible green laser light, which is difficult to see in daylight.

     The Dazer Laser Defender looks much like the existing pistol model and less like a "blaster rifle" found hanging on a sci-fi adventurer's hip. Weighing less than 1.5 pounds and requiring four CR-123A 3V lithium batteries, the Defender stands at about 6.1 inches high and 6.3 inches long. Its maximum beam range of 2,400 meters is roughly less than 1.5 miles with the longest-range model.

     The Defender's sibling, the Guardian, resembles more of a rear- and front-button flashlight or short baton than a pistol. At 6.6 inches long, the Guardian weighs one pound with its two CR-123A, 3V lithium batteries. Designed for close encounters, this Dazer Laser's maximum range peaks at about 300 meters. Alternative Guardian models offer shorter effective ranges.

     A laser itself begins much like the buckshot from a shotgun, where the energy is concentrated in a narrow beam expanding outward in a cone-like shape. Like the shotgun, at a close range the blast is contained to a small space yet overwhelmingly powerful; at long range the blast spreads apart, reducing the effectiveness as the distance increases. However, in a laser, users can manipulate its effective distance with variable range and focus optics.

     There are two ways this laser technology can be utilized: a fixed or variable range and focus device. The fixed range has a single maximum distance; threats past this do not receive the full effect of the weapon, while closer targets receive too high a power density, rendering the beam less effective and possibly unsafe.

     Variable range technology allows the user to adapt the laser's range and diameter. For example, the Dazer Laser Guardian long-range model can emit a one meter beam diameter at 10, 25, 50, 100 and 300 meters.

     However, interference can hinder effectiveness. Laser Energetics Founder and CEO Robert Battis compares this to a vehicle's headlight. "If there is anything in the air such as rain, fog or snow, the beam will be scattered and hence the effects can be diminished.

     "This is called 'light diffusion.' If you diffuse the light you're going to knock down its power and its range — it still works but it just won't work as long range and as effectively," he explains.

     Laser Energetics developed another feature into its Dazer Laser product line: A countdown clock shuts the device down once a set time expires. An officer would begin his patrol by programming the Dazer's security code, turning the tool on. The weapon then remains on until the internal timer reaches zero — turning the Dazer automatically off. Programming would repeat each time the unit is required to be turned on. While on, the Dazer requires the user to press the trigger or button to activate.

     "We really feel what we have done here is take a technology that had promise and we have made its safe operation … a reality," says Battis.

     The attempts in creating viable non-lethal technologies have developed their own diverted paths away from science fiction and spy-toys. Yet, the subconscious images remain. Science fiction began using the technology as a tool to create its futuristic worlds — chosen only to create the seemingly unobtainable. ADS, Raytheon and now Laser Energetics have taken this once-concept and have put it into your hands.

     Editors note: Further information on ADS can be found at The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program Web site at https://www.jnlwp.com.

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