Laser beams of sound
Focused audio streams are being used to debilitate pirates with pain. An AFP news report talks to private British company Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, which has been renting out three-man teams of ex-military personnel along with a long range acoustic device (LRAD) and an MP3 player. LRADs can zap the target with a precise beam of sound that can be disturbing up to 1,000 meters and excruciating with permanent hearing damage within 100 to 200 meters at full power. According to APMSS, one of its crews thwarted a pirate attack on a chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden last week, just 15 miles off the Yemen coast.
This isn’t a new technology, but it’s still fascinating and has yet to reach its commercial potential. I wrote a story in 2003 about the two main American companies working in this field, HoloSonic Research Labs and the American Technology Co., in which I focused on the entertainment applications. I later reported on General Motors using Holosonics’ Audio Spotlight (sorry, behind subscription wall) so kids in the back seat could watch DVDs without headphones but without the adults in the front seat being able to hear the movie’s audio. (Picture of Holosonics founder Dr. F. Joseph Pompei with Audio Spotlight installation.)