Don't daze me, bro! Police experiment with non-lethal Dazer Laser
By Loz Blain
July 28, 2010
Criminals across America could be just about to see the light… the Dazer Laser, a non-lethal weapon that shines disorienting, nauseating bursts of intense green laser light into a target's eyes, has gone into police trials across the Northern states. It's been shown to have no lasting effects, it's as easy to use as shining a flashlight in somebody's eyes, and it offers police the ability to temporarily blind a threat as they move to subdue it.
Anyone who's ever been out camping with an annoying younger brother will understand how distracting and disorienting it can be to have a bright light shone directly in your eyes – the Dazer Laser takes this effect to a whole new level.
It features a bright green laser beam that flashes and strobes in a way designed to cause maximum visual confusion, disorientation and even nausea – the theory being that when you shine one of these in the face of a wrongdoer, they're totally visually handicapped and lose the use of at least one arm as they try to shield their face from the light show.
The beam is so powerful that it's still effective through closed eyelids, and the nausea effect can last up to four hours after exposure – so while it's non-lethal, it's certainly very unpleasant.
Different Dazer Laser models can be ordered – the Guardian is a flashlight shaped device and the Defender is shaped like a handgun – and they're effective from a range of one meter (3.28 feet) to a staggering 2,400 meters (1.5 miles) for the top-level Defender model.
When you're not shining them on naughty faces, all models can be used as a bright and effective laser flashlight by switching them to 'search light' mode.
The Dazer Laser won't be sold to the general public – instead, Laser Energetics, the company responsible for the devices, is producing a limited run that is now being trialled by multiple police departments across the Northern United States. The technology is also being taken around the warfighter/special ops/counter terror expo circuit.
Similar technology has been used in the past, with a much more sinister effect – notably red/infrared lasers that were able not only to stun, but to temporarily and sometimes permanently blind the target. Using infra-red lasers, these 'laser blinders' directed seriously large amounts of energy into the retina without triggering the blink reflex. They could be mounted to trucks or tanks for access to heftier power sources, and used in conjunction with large sound generators as part of a crowd control strategy – the loud noise would draw the crowd's eyes toward the dazzler device, then the laser would be played across large sections of the crowd, blinding everyone looking that way.
But in this sort of use, it was very difficult to gauge how much energy to use – burning the retina like this there was a fine line between temporary and permanent blindness at the touch of a trigger. As a result, laser blinders were condemned by both the Red Cross and the United Nations, and are no longer used.
The green laser used in the Dazer Laser has been proven eye safe – tests have shown that using this longer wavelength there's no permanent damage done after exposure if the devices are used correctly.
There's no doubt an enemy that can't see you or look in your direction is at a severe disadvantage – the Dazer Laser seems to offer a significant advantage against an opponent that wants to stand and fight. It will be interesting to see how the police trials go, and whether the Dazer Laser ends up joining the Taser as a less-lethal enforcement option. At the very least, it'll make the average cop's equipment list sound a bit more like a Dr. Seuss poem.
Take a look at the promo video below to see the Dazer Laser incapacitating a number of unruly types.
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