From underwater stun guns to burning-hot pain rays, the Pentagon has plenty of far-out ideas for a trove of futuristic less-lethal weapons. But it looks like one American inventor might have outdone the entire military.
That inventor, named Joel Braun, came up with a less-lethal mashup that stuns, shoots, blinds and sprays its targets.
Braun's system, described in a patent approved last month by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is called the "Non-Lethal Weapon Mount With Modular Weapon Components." It combines four of the most common less-lethal weapons technologies: stun guns, disabling sprays like mace, non-lethal bullets and blinding light. Users can choose from the menu of nonlethal options and unleash them solo or in painful combinations in a matter of seconds.
As Braun notes in his patent, law enforcement agents and military personnel often juggle a mess of equipment - less-lethals, handguns, flashlights - and risk "fumbl[ing] for the proper device." The dilemma can be life-threatening for soldiers and cops, rendering them "exposed and defenseless" when they're trying to grab whatever tool's needed for a given job. (I wasn't able to track Braun down for an interview.)
Braun's patent offers a solution. Cram all the less-lethal weapons into a single unit. Strap the unit onto a wearer's forearm while securing his or her hand on the device's grip. At the end of the weapon is a spray nozzle, munitions barrel, blinding dazzler and the stunning device. Batteries provide power for the entire apparatus, while a separate container, strapped to the back and hooked up to the main gun, holds projectiles and spray.
The device has an array of triggers, each controlling a different kind of nonlethal weapon, along with dials to adjust intensity. Braun doesn't specify how many dials the handgrip would need, but notes that both the dazzler and stun gun could be operated "with varying degrees of intensity."
Braun's device may or may not attract investors, to say nothing of contracts from police departments or the military. But at least he's thinking big. Most of the Pentagon's less-lethal intentions - despite nearly $400 million invested since 1997 - have been duds.
Image: U.S. Southern Command
Wired.com has been expanding the hive mind with technology, science and geek culture news since 1995.