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IBM Biotech Patents Science

IBM Files Patent For Bullet-Dodging Bionic Armor 379

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-matrix-jokes-commence dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that IBM has filed a patent for "Bionic body armor" that would protect a wearer from long-range gunfire by detecting the incoming bullets and administering small shocks to the appropriate muscles required for moving out of the way. Quoting the patent: "When a marksman (such as a sniper) is attempting to fire a projectile from a firearm, the marksman typically prefers to be as far away from the target as possible, thus giving him or her a head start for the escape after the firing. As an example, the longest reported sniper hit was from a distance of about 2500 meters, resulting in a time of flight of about 4 seconds for the projectile/bullet. Had the target been aware of the inbound projectile, avoiding it by simply walking away would have been possible." After detecting the projectile, the armor would calculate the trajectory and "stimulate the target to move in a predefined manner ... sufficient to avoid any contact with the approaching projectile."
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IBM Files Patent For Bullet-Dodging Bionic Armor

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  • Sign me up! (Score:5, Funny)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:21AM (#26853973)
    I get so much shit thrown at me at the daycare everyday I could really use this.
  • I'd be most interested in seeing a YouTube clip of it trying to avoid a hail of bullets fired from different angles.

    I wouldn't want to be wearing it in that scenario.

    • Also, I'm sure there will be tell-tale signs of who is wearing this, and you could fire at them, not necessarily for a hit, but to make them move into an area where you do want to hit them, or even fire a burst, to make someone wearing it move out of the way so you can hit the guy behind him, etc, etc...

      "Dance fucker dance"

    • by Fumus (1258966) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @04:08AM (#26854377)
      How about a chair?
      Will it allow the wearer to avoid being hit by a flying chair?

      If yes, then IBM might actually be able to sell it to a few people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dunkelfalke (91624)

      in that case even a bulletproof vest would be irrelevant because it cannot stand repeated hits anyway.

      that's why a .22lr smg can be far more dangerous than a 9x19mm pistol.

  • by tenco (773732) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:24AM (#26853987)
    I wonder how they want to detect an approaching projectile. By sound wouldn't give really much of a head start. Anyway, detecting a projectile, calculating an approximate flight path and stimulating including biomechanical lag would have to happen in a really short period of time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DeadPixels (1391907)
      Indeed. Considering that the example of the longest recorded sniper shot has a "four second" travel time, one would assume that the majority of sniper shots will take only a second or two. That means that the detection, calculation, and stimulation would have to take place in maybe a hundredth of a second to be useful.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Time_Ngler (564671)
      FTFA "The projectile may be detected in the detecting step by emitting an electromagnetic wave from a projectile detector and receiving the electromagnetic wave after the electromagnetic wave has been reflected back toward the projectile detector by the projectile."
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZOP (240653) *

      sound would not give any warning. very few modern rifles, especially sniper rifles, and most certainly those in the class that will fire past the 1km mark are subsonic.

    • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:56AM (#26854335) Journal

      I wonder how they want to detect an approaching projectile.

      Millimeter-wave radar would do fine, as long as the bullet was metallic. I've read about another idea for protecting people from gunfire which was a radar-triggered airbag that would pop up if anything within a hundred feet or so was moving too fast. The air bag would be made of kevlar, and the a bullet hitting it would stop like an arrow hitting a curtain.

      -jcr

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by darkmeridian (119044)

        An airbag armor system would be effectively a Whipple Shield. The penetration of a projectile is blunted by multiple layers of a material separated by a small distance. The initial layers progressively shatter the projectile into smaller parts, each of which have less penetration capability into the next layer. The concept is used in spacecraft to defend against small space debris but it has also been used in tank armor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:27AM (#26854003)

    That doesn't mean you can make it work in 10 years or less.

    I guess we should be patenting everything we can possibly think of, now. Sigh.

  • While this seems like a great way to protect an unarmed VIP (as seems to be the intent), it seems like it'd be a little bit problematic when installed in the armor of a soldier in the field. This seems like it could be more dangerous than beneficial in such circumstances, unless you also apply a number of safety precautions. What if the wearer is already firing or moving? Will it be smart enough to detect preexisting movement? Will it be smart enough to disable the wearer's firearm, in the event that he is

  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jswigart (1004637) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:28AM (#26854009)

    Probably the lamest idea ever. Long range sniper kills of this type represent an insignificant minority of deaths, they really think people are going to wear this crap?

    The detection method sounds flaky and lame. What I would pay to see though is the other side create an 'electromagnetic' interference device that causes this armor to 'stimulate' the wearer to dive into a brick wall or something.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Probably the lamest idea ever. Long range sniper kills of this type represent an insignificant minority of deaths, they really think people are going to wear this crap?

      The detection method sounds flaky and lame. What I would pay to see though is the other side create an 'electromagnetic' interference device that causes this armor to 'stimulate' the wearer to dive into a brick wall or something.

      I agree. The whole idea seems like something somebody thought up after getting really, really drunk and watching "The Tuxedo."

      Makes great book/movie material, but actually making it functional is a pipe dream at best.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dunkelfalke (91624)

        getting really, really drunk and watching "The Tuxedo."

        Redundant. As much as I love Jackie's movies, Tuxedo can only be watched while really really drunk.

    • by fredmosby (545378)

      It might have been effective if Kennedy had been wearing it.

    • by interiot (50685)
      Yitzhak Rabin? JFK? MLK Jr? Clinton [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Comatose51 (687974) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @04:26AM (#26854459) Homepage
      While I agree with you that this solution is not a good fit for the problem, I just want point out that the threat of a sniper isn't in the total body count. Snipers tend to have a much greater psychological effect that's very disproportionate to the the resources employed. Soldiers, especially officers, are less likely to be out in the open if they knew there are snipers stalking them. Maybe one soldier will be killed per day or maybe even less but that's probably enough to make the unit operate less effectively the rest of the time. No one wants to be that one soldiers. More importantly, there is nothing they can really do about the threat and that makes soldiers feel helpless and drains their morale.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094)

      This isn't about saving lives. It's about getting government money.
      Stuff like this sounds sexy. The generation of people in government office who hand out cash for this grew up watching sci-fi movies, and this sounds cool. They even get to try on the armour at sales pitches I reckon. Probably get to take a few souvenir photos.
      Compare that with very dry presentations saying more steel is needed to reinforce the armour on military vehicles. It sounds dull, and it doesn't get funding.

      This is nothing new. Gover

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdarksbane (587589)

        On the steel issue.. a large part of that problem is using vehicles for purposes they were never designed for.

        A humvee is supposed to be a relatively light support vehicle that follows behind the front. It was not generally designed to get shot at - adding extra armor plates is a lot of weight that significantly changes how the vehicle handles.

        By taking our army that was designed to kick ass and take names against another army, throwing them into anti-insurgency duty where they have to deal with civilians w

  • This reminds me of something I read here recently about meteor strikes on Earth. Basically, we can only map about 0.001% of the sky per day or something small, and there are so many potential meteors out there we may never see that we may just die in our sleep tonight. How could body armor see all the potential trajectories of a bullet, scan them, and react all within a fraction of a second? While the longest bullet travel was 4 seconds, I would imagine that most successful sniper attacks are less, and armo

  • Super Sonic Rounds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:35AM (#26854051) Homepage

    The vast majority of sniper rounds are super sonic. (the speed of sound is only about 1,100 ft/s)

    So the bullet will hit it's target before the sound wave warning has arrived

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joggle (594025)

      Which is why they aren't going off of sound (detailed in the patent application). They're using EM waves to reflect off of the bullet (either radar, laser, etc).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wisty (1335733)

        Oh brilliant. So all you need is a rocket built to home in on EM waves from the armor?

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:40AM (#26854069)

    So the armor emits an electromagnetic signal that can detect, instantly, the movement of a bullet, can calculate the trajectory of said bullet, and somehow ensure that the user is warned enough to move out of the way of the bullet. In the example that they give, the bullet is traveling at 625 meters per second, the size of a bullet coming from a typical sniper rifle is very small. So this armor can detect, say the size of a small marble, from 2500 meters away?

    Assuming that this armor can perfect and accurately detect incoming small arms projectiles and warn the user in time, how can the armor know the ground terrain that the wearer has to physically negotiate? Say the person is standing in two feet of snow, or in sand in the desert, perhaps the person is in two feet of water, or they are walking down stairs? The armor requires the user to be an acrobat from what I can tell. And no matter what, unless the armor can fully mobilize the wearer and move them automatically, this system still leaves room for grave human error, meaning it's hardly reliable.

    And won't people figure out a way to beat the armor, or beat the system. Imagine a sniper rifle that fires a decoy bullet, that knocks the target down (as he evades the first bullet) and puts the armor wearer in a prone position on the ground, making him or her easy to target. Or perhaps a decoy bullet is shot from one barrel and the real bullet follows in a pre-calculated trajectory requiring no manual aiming for the sniper. Perhaps a bullet can be made undetectable to the electromagnetic pulse that the armor gives off. Maybe the armor can be jammed? You fire a bullet with an electromagnetic pulse destabilizer and then pick off your target when the armor fails.

    I should mention that I live like three or four miles from IBM's headquarters in the Hudson Valley, so I hope they let my friends who work there bring in their buddies (or just me) for some live fire demonstrations where we can snipe at blowup dolls wearing million dollar armor with some high tech rifles.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by espiesp (1251084)

      Well, light is an electromagnetic signal I guess.

      If the wearer had a 360* light sensor on top of his head, and it was tuned to detect small flashes in the particular light signature of a rifle flash, something like this could work I suppose.

      While I'm pretty confident that the electronics could react fast enough for at least a 1000meter range, I'm really not sure how fast the human body responds to the electrical impulses. If the last time I touched live 110v AC is any indication that's pretty bloody fast.

      • by cliffski (65094)

        Yes, because there's no way it would get false positives on light flashes. The guy in the suit will look like he is auditioning for riverdance.

    • by jcr (53032)

      So this armor can detect, say the size of a small marble, from 2500 meters away?

      Sure, why not? Radar routinely detects objects that cover far smaller arcs in its field of view.

      -jcr

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yes, with massive radar antennae. There's no way you can do the same with a six-inch antenna (or whatever).

        Also, radar antennae tend to spin so you get a latency in the detection. If it spins (eg.) once per second and you need three readings to be able to calculate the trajectory of the bullet then that's 3.5 seconds latency on average. Plus a second to get out of the way, and, ooops! We've just taken longer than the longest ever snipe.

    • ...how can the armor know the ground terrain that the wearer has to physically negotiate? Say the person is standing in two feet of snow, or in sand in the desert, perhaps the person is in two feet of water, or they are walking down stairs? The armor requires the user to be an acrobat from what I can tell. And no matter what, unless the armor can fully mobilize the wearer and move them automatically, this system still leaves room for grave human error, meaning it's hardly reliable.

      I would rather fall down a flight of stairs than get hit by a bullet.

      Just sayin.
      -Taylor

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:40AM (#26854071)

    simulates projectiles in a manner which causes the aforementioned bullet-dodging armor to deliver stimulus which directs it's wearer to repeatedly and fatally strike him or herself in the genitals.

    I predict this to be added to the hague conventions in short order.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:42AM (#26854081)

    This is what happens when a company pays its employees for each successful patent, and when employees are even told to put patent applications in their yearly personal objectives, which affect their annual bonuses. You end up with employees spending a large chunk of their work week filing for patents on any random idea that enters their head, no matter how impractical, obvious, or unrelated to the company's actual research and development.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:43AM (#26854095)
    But there are several obstacles which I can't see being solved within the next decade or two (I'm being optimistic):

    First of all, there's accuracy. You don't want your VIP actually walking to intercept the bullet.

    Second, size. If your radar is so precise as to detect a bullet even 500 yards away, it's gotta be pretty big.

    Related to this, there's energy. For an awesome radar (or anything else) like that, you'd need big-ass batteries, and/or to recharge every couple of hours. Especially in battle, this would be a no-go.

    Finally, if they claim that this is really for VIP's under high risk of an assassination attempt, and not for military/police, then the device would probably have to be invisible. I don't think Obama or Bill Gates wants to walk around with a huge thingamajig on his head (remember "Child abduction is not funny"?).

    Seriously, I don't know if it's a good idea to give somebody a patent for an idea if they haven't addressed so many key issues.
  • brilliant! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jipn4 (1367823)

    Since bullets typically travel faster than sound, you first get hit by the bullet, and then you get an electric shock on top of that. What fun.

    What will those IBM guys patent next?

  • Title... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:51AM (#26854113) Journal

    IBM Files Patent For Bullet-Dodging Bionic Armor

    Reading that title, I got a mental image of body armor sensing incoming bullets and dodging them by jumping off of the wearer.

  • We can build the first 700 Billion dollar man. Da da-da da! Da da da da da da da da daahh
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:01AM (#26854157)

    The sniper was Canadian, so I'm pretty sure the armour wouldn't have saved the target in the long run. The sniper was told that the guy he killed was responsible for blowing up ten skids of imported microbrewery beer. If the rifle didn't work, that sniper would have run down there with a dull, rusty spoon, cut the guy's balls off and beaten him to death with them.

    It's the Canadian Way.

  • ... $20M stealth bullets that have the radar signature of a mosquito. Yay!
  • With battle field lasers being available now, it needs to have a quantum entanglement detector to operate. This also requires the IBM time machine to be really effective. The nice thing it is so futuristic it has an open source time machine operating system.
  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:29AM (#26854251)
    Or do they actually have something? Personally I don't see it working that well. A system that detects where the fire comes from and automatically returns fire with a sniper round, or an RPG, would be much bigger deterrent IMO.
  • by Lavene (1025400) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:31AM (#26854263)
    Shampoo is working for IBM!!
  • BUT... (Score:2, Funny)

    by capebretonsux (758684)
    ...will it work with thrown shoes?
  • something to upgrade my baby armor with!
  • They've had these for cars for a long time. It triangulates the bullet's path from two or three sensors mounted on the body, so the driver can tell where the shots are coming from and take avoiding action.

    I guess the novel part of this is to buld a taser into the mechanism - though, I would expect most politicians would prefer to take a bullet than to crap themselves in public as a result of the shocks they receive.

  • by rantingkitten (938138) <(kitten) (at) (mirrorshades.org)> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @05:02AM (#26854579) Homepage
    That I can dodge bullets? Or that when I'm ready, I won't have to?
  • It's just a patent. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by w0mprat (1317953) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @05:06AM (#26854591)
    A bullet is a very very small target for any radar to detect, even with very sensitive equipment. However something moving at 1000m/s is a very distinct doppler rader signature, wich makes it MUCH easier to detect. From there this is plausible.

    It's just a patent, it doesn't represent any actual project planned and certainly is no waste of bailout/stimulous package money.

    I for one welcom such advances, as some day our troops will be wearing exoskeletons which may be able to make movements for the wearer - this is a step towards the machine revolution, where we are all anhiliated by robotic exoskeletons where the human is either dead or no longer has control... oh crap.
  • I'm sure people like Bill Gates would have paid for something that would detect and intercept incoming pies. They're a more credible threat for a well funded and high profile market.

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