The Milipol exhibition in Paris is where all the pros play with the military-industrial complex's hottest toys. I used special commando skills (and a press badge) to infiltrate the premises and show you the world's freshest, most mind-blowing security tech.
To bypass the gallery format, click here. And no, this is not a holiday gift guide.
OSA PB2 "Less-Lethal" Multipurpose Pistol
Ever since I watched Rosa Klebb trying to kill Bond with her shoe-dagger, I considered the Russians the world experts in tiny hideaway weapons. The PB2 is an eeency-weeency little double-barreled "less-lethal" pistol weighing less than 7 ounces, firing anything from rubber bullets to flares to flashbangs. It's also got a safety and integral laser sights, which can be upgraded to near-Scott-Summers strength on order. Just don't practice on some poor country bumpkin like they did here. [OSA]
DrugWipe by Securetec
The DrugWipe is what makes the customs guys all-knowing. It's a tiny drugtest in a pocket. These plastic sticks can test up to four classes of illegal drugs in a single go. According to Securetec's PR guy, your saliva can give you away 12 hours after doing—or even just being near—cocaine, weed, opium, meth or whathaveyou. All the government grunts have to do is wipe your tongue. Won't open your mouth? They can also swipe your sweat and random stuff you're carrying. [Securetec]
When I approached the director of a small security/protection company to ask about this normal looking watch, he wouldn't tell me a whole lot. What I managed to squeeze out of him is that although it's normal size, it also records audio and video. Near the 2 o'clock mark you can see a tiny lens, activated by buttons on the side. He wasn't the only cagey guy on the show floor—the guys in a nearby booth forbade me from taking pictures of their micro surveillance gear.
The Trikke uPT (ultralight personal transporter) was the funnest (and funniest) thing at the entire expo, and that's saying a lot when you're surrounded by a pirateload of guns. It's an idea so simple, the company's European director, the dark-suited Dutchman whizzing around on it, couldn't figure why his potential buyers would spend any money at all on the wayyyy more expensive Segways parked in the next booth. The uPT is a trike tricked out with a 250-watt electric motor and a 22-mile range lithium-ion battery; it weighs just over 37 pounds. And like that blasted Segway, there are plenty of models to choose from. [Trikke]
RiotBot by Technorobot
The RiotBot is billed by its makers as "the first robot for riot control." It uses a PS3-looking remote controller to zip this PepperBall-equipped metal beast at 12 miles/hour into all kinds of riots. The carbine fires at 700 rounds per minute and can be operated for 2 hours. [Technorobot]
It's usually next to impossible to do precise tasks with gloves on. Most of the time, your hands move around in the gloves, you can't feel what you're holding and you end up feeling as useless as a eunuch in a whorehouse. But the MaxFit workgloves are fanfriggintastic. They were the thinnest, grippiest workgloves I had ever worn. Their try-out test was having me grip an Armor-All lubed PVC tube, then try to twist it out of my hand—it didn't budge. Unfortunately, though the site advertises that it's good for construction, DIYers and "fall yardwork," I couldn't help but wonder what ulterior activities they were promoting it for at a security show. [MaxFit]
Piexon Guardian Angel
The Guardian Angel is a tiny plastic toy that looks like your niece's water pistol, but it's actually a lightweight, disposable two-shot explosive-propelled pepper-spray gun. The cartridges give it way more range than a spray can. Just don't carry it around in Scandinavia or other places where it's banned, or they'll arrest you for it (like they nearly did with me two months ago). By the way, it's interesting to note that the Piexon website names "liberal politics" as a chief reason for needing more protection these days. [Piexon]
Rimmex 288 Prototype Amphibot
The Rimmex 288 is a prototype amphibious robot that can roll straight into water—streams, rivers and lakes mostly, or just very muddy terrain—and then roll right back out again. Its single arm with 6 degrees of freedom can be swapped with whatever you like—from a gun to an x-ray, apparently, depending on your, uh, objectives. [ROV Developpement]
Apoorva Prasad is a freelance writer and photographer based in Paris, France, who recently covered the Milipol 2009 military-police expo for us. He has a thing for holo-scoped assault rifles, and sounds disappointed when admitting he's never been Tased.