Apr 012011

Incapacitating light beam: The suspect is going for his gun, and the police officer doesn’t want to shoot.

The founders of a company called Genesis Illumination hope police officers will soon be reaching for a StunRay instead of a gun or Taser. They claim their newly patented device can render an assailant helpless with a brief flash of high-intensity light. It works by overloading the neural networks connected to the retina, saturating the target’s world in a blinding pool of white light. “It’s the inverse of blindness—the technical term is a loss of contrast sensitivity,” says Todd Eisenberg, the engineer who invented the device. “The typical response is for the person to freeze. Law enforcement can easily walk up and apprehend [the suspect].”

The device consists of a 75-watt lamp, combined with optics that collect and focus the visible light into a targeted beam, which can be aimed like a flashlight. Recovery time ranges from “seconds to 20 minutes,” Eisenberg says. “It’s very analogous to walking from a very bright room into a very dark room.”

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