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Homeland Security Commissions LED-Based Puke-Saber 378

E++99 writes "Homeland Security has contracted with Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc. to develop an "LED Incapacitator," a nonlethal weapon consisting of a large flashlight with a cluster of LEDs capable of emitting "super-bright pulses of light at rapidly changing wavelengths." Sounds innocuous enough... until they they shine "the evil color" at you and you start puking! A working prototype has been completed, and they will soon be putting it through its paces. Homeland Security hopes to give it to Border Patrol agents and National Guardsmen by 2010."
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Homeland Security Commissions LED-Based Puke-Saber

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  • If only to pummel Tom Cruise with................
  • Other uses... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tectomorph ( 844828 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#20135407)
    Wow, wait until the bulimics get hold of this on the black market!
  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#20135411) Homepage Journal
    ...as long as the bad guys aren't allowed to have mirrors.
    • or sunglasses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I wear dark sunglasses at night... so I can ... so I can... cross the border with the supper I ate tonight....... *groans*
    • sunglasses.

      Some people really don't think these things through very well.

    • Or tinfoil hats, for that matter. (or mirrored sunglasses!)
    • flash forward to 2015: "Look at the clean shave on that guy...I smell TERRORIST!!!"
    • by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <sdpage103@nOspaM.yahoo.co.uk> on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:13PM (#20136041)
      Why would the bad guys need mirrors? They just invented a puke ray.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
        Why would the bad guys need mirrors? They just invented a puke ray.

        I realize that being anti government, especially anti Bush is pretty hip-cool right now, but...

        I don't think you could call these guys "bad" when they just spent an ass-load of time and money to invent a weapon that makes you puke when they could have just said "screw 'em", saved an ass-load of money and simply shot whoever the puke-ray was intended for with a REAL gun. We already invented the 9mm. Why waste the time?

        I think these "Bad Guy
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by McNihil ( 612243 )
      I knew there was a reason for a tinfoil hat!
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daverd ( 641119 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#20135413) Homepage
    How long till you can get this in a Java applet?
  • Cover your eyes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arakageeta ( 671142 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#20135415)
    ...not that you'd be an effective terrorist with your eyes closed. BTW, is it wrong of me to want to see this used on large crowds?
  • dupe (Score:5, Funny)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:24PM (#20135431)
    Does it also work against editors who relentlessly post the same stories over and over again?
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:40PM (#20135659)
      Coming up next, Slashdot follows the troubling development of a nonlethal technological device for "controlling" troublesome individuals, consisting of two small metal or plastic bracelets joined by a short chain that can be "locked" around the suspect's hands, entirely preventing him from using them until someone "unlocks" the device with a special key.

      On whom will this fiendish device be used? Are YRO at risk if this nasty little tool falls into the hands of border guards and police? What if someone immobilized by this device falls and hits his head because he can't break his fall with his hands? Will he sue? Doesn't this violate the Constitution somehow?
  • This version is only a slight improvement over the original prototype, which could beam scenes from Gigli directly into a person's retina from up to 2 miles.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by JimboFBX ( 1097277 )

      This version is only a slight improvement over the original prototype, which could beam scenes from Gigli directly into a person's retina from up to 2 miles.
      Apparently a new design requirement came up: "Make sure it works on Jennifer Lopez"
  • by sickmtbnutcase ( 608308 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:25PM (#20135451)
    Puke, I am your father.
  • from the link in the article:

    "There are often confrontations at border crossings with suspected illegal aliens or drug runners," Lieberman says. "You don't want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody. With this," he smiles, "they don't need to know English to comply."

    and This fall, in Phase 2, researchers at Pennsylvania State University will test the LED Incapacitator on volunteers at the school's Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology. Intelligent Optical Systems will use the test results t

    • by ultracool ( 883965 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:43PM (#20135695)
      "There are often confrontations at border crossings with suspected illegal aliens or drug runners," Lieberman says. "You don't want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody. With this," he smiles, "they don't need to know English to comply."

      Wouldn't it be easier to just have border officials who spoke Spanish?

  • Legal liability? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:26PM (#20135467)
    IANAL, but doesn't this device create some legal liability for security?
    -Someone gets this device used on them. They have damage from stomach acid in their esophagus. They sue.
    -They use this on someone who is sick (from another cause). They puke up blood/get sicker/die.
    -(This is BS, but lawyers will sue for anything these days) "Psychological trauma" caused by the device.

    Is it a reasonable expectation that the device may be used on you if you go to airport/border?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AlexBirch ( 1137019 )
      How would this device differ from tasers, tear gas, or rubber bullets?

      People have won lawsuits after the egregious/lethal application of tasers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by E++99 ( 880734 )

        How would this device differ from tasers, tear gas, or rubber bullets?

        People have won lawsuits after the egregious/lethal application of tasers.

        This sounds a whole lot less likely (especially than tasers) to be lethal. The exception would be with epileptics, but I think those would be very rare cases.

        I'm sure that egregious applications of ANYTHING could still result in lawsuits. But if you're talking about liability for using the device when the sufficient cause to use it is being challenged, I think the

  • So, let me get this straight...

    Some vendor comes up with an implausible-sounding "weapon" based on what is little more than a glorified LED flashlight, now available online for about $20. They describe how it's a "non-lethal weapon", and need bajillions of BUXORZ to "ensure adequate performance".

    Forgive me if I'm a bit the skeptic... but what really makes we want to puke about this is just what an incredibly OBVIOUS waste of money this is! How much money are we going to pay to have somebody put together a b
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DogDude ( 805747 )
      I'd rather see my tax money wasted on something like this instead of wasted on new ways to slaughter more people even faster.
      • by nebaz ( 453974 )
        I don't know...One of the issues with non-lethal weapons it they make it a lot easier to break up a protest. If you actually had to kill people to settle them down, media and conscience could more easily affect change.
  • Why do I feel its only a matter of time till the design leaks out and dick teenagers start buying them on ebay and carrying them around. I hope this doesn't work as advertised.
  • by El Icaro ( 816679 ) <icaro@spym[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#20135505)
    We definitely need some kind of device to shield our eyes from this "light". As I understand a practical way would be just covering our eyes, we could shape them as glasses! Not only that, but it could protect us from the suns blinding rays... I suggest we call this device "sunglasses" to deceive others of its true purpose!

    Now if someone just invented these "sunglasses"...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrLint ( 519792 )
      Perhaps a better solution would be Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses?
  • to clean up all the puke at the borders?
  • Nail in the coffin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by acidrain69 ( 632468 )
    And if anyone still believes this stuff is all about stopping terrorism, you are an idiot. This is all about controlling the domestic herd.
    • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:26PM (#20136173)
      It's not about terrorism. That's what lethal weapons are for. This is for destructive rioters, mobs, criminals, ect. Maybe I'm just misinformed, and if that's the case please tell me what, where, and when I missed the government going truely totalitarian on someone, and give me a link to the story, but I don't recall anytime in recent memory when something like this was used to subdue a peaceful crowd, or as you put it, 'control the domestic herd.'

      Of course, this can, at some point, will be misused, just as any law enforcement tool will eventually be misused, but would you rather have them misuse something lethal?
      • by JambisJubilee ( 784493 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @09:11PM (#20137025)

        [...] I don't recall anytime in recent memory when something like this was used to subdue a peaceful crowd [...]

        You must have an awfully short memory. How about non-lethal foam-rubber projectiles?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Los_Angeles_May_D ay_melee [wikipedia.org]
  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#20135545) Homepage
    While non-lethal technology has the potential to be fantastic, there's a downside to be considered too.

    With a gun, there's a certain level of commitment before it's used. An officer of the law must make a determination that he or she is really certain about before shooting, because hitting an innocent person is absolutely unacceptable. As a result, the tendency is to, unless there's no option, NOT shoot someone if you can hold them at bay with the THREAT of shooting. A side effect of this is that an officer given a bad order to shoot is much more likely to abstain, because once he pulls the trigger, it's all over.

    As a result, innocent folks are often held at gunpoint until their identity/non-criminalness is confirmed. While traumatic and stressful, this is better than an alternative that's growing increasingly common:

    Enter, the taser. Potentially a wonderful tool for stopping an attacker without permanently injuring them, doctrine has instead developed in many police and security departments to 'Zap first, ask questions later'. The 'non-injurious' aspect of the tool means that the bar is that much lower on whether or not to shoot, because "after all, if they're innocent, then it's just a bit of discomfort".

    The growing number of non-lethal tools is on the surface a good, even GREAT thing. The real danger though, is a long term one. With the bar set so low, more and more people will be subject to excruciating pain, and eventually, this technology may evolve into a tool of even greater oppression of liberty than anything we have now.

    Imagine if a protest can be casually broken up by making everyone vomit or crap themselves uncontrollably. If the government has the ability to casually stop groups of people from coming together or otherwise detaining them while being able to argue "it's not fatal, it's just uncomfortable", then the bar on violating our rights as citizens drops too.

    So I'm interested and optimistic about the technologies, but I desperately hope that better effort is invested in making them a net positive for all of humanity and not the boot that might otherwise grind our faces into the dirt.
    • by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:04PM (#20135943)
      Police in the US have been using lights as weapons for a long time, and the military before them. The intent hasn't been to make suspects puke or crap or anything, just disoriented. Flashbangs are an example, weaponlights, etc. Light is generally an effective way to gain an upper hand and apart from a few sympathetic finger responses from guys using the Surefire/Rogers technique there is little physical collateral damage.

      You are correct in that non-lethal control measures are 'easier' to implement. But I think that once the decision is made to bring a situation under control, it is going to happen regardless. Maybe I just don't trust cops, but it seems like once things go bad they go the whole way. If firehoses are at hand, they bring out the firehoses. Tasers, clubs, rubber bullets, PIT maneuvers, etc etc.

      Whatever it takes.
      • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:53PM (#20136437) Homepage
        You are correct in that non-lethal control measures are 'easier' to implement. But I think that once the decision is made to bring a situation under control, it is going to happen regardless. Maybe I just don't trust cops, but it seems like once things go bad they go the whole way. If firehoses are at hand, they bring out the firehoses. Tasers, clubs, rubber bullets, PIT maneuvers, etc etc.

        Yes, that's true, and in riot-type situations that is exactly what happens.

        In this particular case I'm more worried about the potential for abuse in encounters with a single suspect. While truncheons and rubber bullets leave marks, presumably this device will leave no indication that it was used other than a case of foul breath. It would be easy for a lawyer to argue that person did not beat themselves between the shoulder blades with a club, could they prove that the suspect did actually throw up, and that it wasn't a case where they vomited from anxiety (from their guilt, of course) then decided to blame the puke ray?

        Basically I worry about any tool that can be used unaccountably, and yeah the lesser barrier to usage that "non-lethal"* weapons imply. Accountability means a lot -- for example it's why the police are more likely to prevent you from hitting your head as you get into the squad car rather than ensuring that you hit your head, because those kinds of bruises became easy lawsuit fodder. So now the good cops have to make sure the suspect doesn't hit their head on purpose, but that's the price that must be paid for the actions of bad cops.

        * Oh yeah, and remember back when that innocent bystander to a protest in NYC was shot through her eye and killed by a rubber bullet? Remember that for a while the press was referring to the pellet guns as "less-lethal weapons"? Can we go back to using that term? Because I'd like for us to keep that in mind before some cop decides to stick this in the face of some suspect with a condition for five minutes just to teach them a lesson.

    • Well vomiting isn't entirely without risk.. there's a significant choke hazard, along with unavoidable damage to the esophagus, teeth, and anything else it comes in contact with. People with existing problems like acid reflux could be especially susceptible to serious damage. Naturally it's only a matter of time until someone sues over the technology, at which point (if recklessness had been a problem before) policies will become much more strict. Of course, the time to write restrictive policy is before
    • by Marcos Eliziario ( 969923 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @09:21PM (#20137089) Homepage Journal
      From your post I can infer: You're not Brazilian. You never lived in Rio de Janeiro. You also have no much knowledge about Rio de Janeiro's police. "As a result, the tendency is to, unless there's no option, NOT shoot someone if you can hold them at bay with the THREAT of shooting" Sorry, but for me, a "carioca", this is an absurdly funny statement.
  • An anonymous source with details on the "puke saber", which incapacitates its victims with displays of color, was quoted, "Our maximum setting is called apache.slashdot.org"
  • Morality of this? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:35PM (#20135591)
    There has to be a real question here of morality and the rules of engagement for such a device. There seems to be a growing tide of opinion that as long as a weapon is "non-lethal", i.e. it won't kill you or leave behind long-term effects then it is magically fine to use in a very wide range of situations. Real questions have to be asked at some stage as to the *morality* of allowing widespread use of something that makes you sick/shocks you/blinds you purely on the basis that "it has no long term effects and allows us to subdue people" - so does a kick in the face, but I don't see officers doing that (unless they are caught on camera in which case the get suspended then eventually let off).
  • non-lethal != A-OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:36PM (#20135607) Homepage
    Somehow these non-lethal weapons scare me more than more lethal ones. Because they are perceived as "lesser" weapons, they get used more often.

    And we don't need to be using weapons on each other more often, but less.

    • Sadly many times using a less-than-lethal weapon is used even though physical contact with the suspect would cause less damage to them. This isn't because police officers are just lazy or because they like to see people tazered but because it it much more defensible in court if the suspect doesn't have any kind of marks on him where as if the officer would wrestle him to the ground and cuff him he would likely have cuts and bruises(almost always superficial damage). Blame the courts and people's perception
  • Well, if there is going to be a proliferation of "non-lethal weapons", I say we level the playing field by passing a law that removes any legal distinction between "lethal" and "non-lethal" weapons. Therefore, if I shoot someone with a "non-lethal" weapon, I am charged the same as if I had shot them with a conventional weapon. And if someone shoots at me with a "non-lethal" weapon, I can legally shoot back with a conventional weapon to defend myself. Thats fair right?
  • So is this the visual equivalent of the Brown note [wikipedia.org]? Let's hope it works better.

    Other comments regarding mirrors and sunglasses (and presumably, sunglasses with mirror lenses) would seem to be equivalent of those pictures of Daleks encountering staircases.
    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      I was hoping someone had noticed the similarities. There was a wonderful South Park episode featuring this.
  • Keeping it locked and loaded the next time I cross the street. When another mobile phone using driver turns the corner and starts toward me, there'll be puke on her/his steering wheel and dashboard.

    Gotta head over to MakeZine.com to see if there's already a kit for this.

  • ...Go ahead and shine it at me and I fire back with puke,,,,

    Who si the loser here?
  • Sounds more like something for amusement park thrill rides.
  • by dyslexicbunny ( 940925 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:51PM (#20135773)

    "There's one wavelength that gets everybody," says IOS President Bob Lieberman. "Vlad [IOS top scientist Vladimir Rubtsov] calls it 'the evil color.'"
    Perhaps I misunderstand the functionality of the device because the article says earlier that the device works as:

    The handheld device using light-emitting diodes to emit super-bright pulses of light at rapidly changing wavelengths, causing disorientation, nausea and even vomiting in whomever it's pointed at.
    Bob claims that Vlad says there's an "evil" color that gets everyone. But the description of the device uses pulses of light at varying wavelengths to cause the effect. So if there's only one wavelength, then why do they need to change the light?

    Couldn't I just pull up into Home Depot's color center and have them make paint in the "evil" color and use it for whatever (pranks, revenge, robbery)?
    • by Ambitwistor ( 1041236 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:33PM (#20136247)
      Maybe he meant that there is a different "evil color" for each person, so you have to run through the whole range to make sure everyone's own color is covered.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#20136369) Journal
      They're probably referring to pulse repetition rate (1/frequency) when they say "wavelength".

      Right after a neuron fires it "rearms" the membrane by pumping ions across it. In time sequence its sensitivity varies smoothly through:
        - The absolute refractory period: Nothing can fire it.
        - The negative afterpotential: It can be fired but it takes extra stimulus.
        - The positive afterpotential: It takes LESS than the usual amount of stimulus to fire it.
      Then it returns to its normal, resting, sensitivity.

      The sensitivity slope may be an artifact of the ion pumps and channels, but it appears to function as a mechanism for encoding the strength of a stimulus as a pulse rate.

      This has a side effect: If a nerve is given short pulses of stimulation with a spacing corresponding to the length of time between a stimulus that fires it and the peak of the positive afterpotential, once it fires once it will tend to continue to fire in synchrony with the pulses from then on. If you have a bundle of such nerves with similar timing and all affected by the stimulus, each additional pulse picks up additional nerves and phase-locks them to the stimulus. Within a few pulses most of the fibers in the bundle tend to be firing rapidly and in unison.

      You can see this with a strobe light with a variable repetition rate. Run it slow and you see distinct pulses - a flicker. Run it fast and you see a continuous light - the pulses have fused into a continuous response. But run it near the "flicker fusion rate" boundary and you get a lot of weird visual effects - notably flickering rainbow colors across the neighboring (or entire) visual field that tend to enhance and obscure the actual image with a flickering, undecipherable, psychedelic-poster version of itself.

      You get colors other than those of the actual source (if it is colored rather than white) and effects in other parts of the visual field than the actual strobing light and things it is illuminating. This is because nerves for parts of the eye that would not normally be stimulated enough to trigger by this light (if it were non-strobing) still become entrained when they happen to be in a positive afterpotential period when a blink occurs.

      (By the way: Don't try this if you're epileptic. It can produce a seizure. Indeed: Some people discover they're epileptic when they are exposed to such flickering lights.)

      One speculation about the hypothetical "brown note" was that infrasound at a positive-afterpotential repetition rate matching that of nerves controlling the intestines might force peristalsis in the colon or trigger the appropriate reflexes for defecation. (It might be interesting to retry the debunking experiments with a train of narrow high-pressure pulses, approximating impulses, rather than a sine wave. B-) )

      This flashlight appears to be attempting a variation of the same effect. By entraining the nerves of the visual processing responsible for locating onself in space and/or ones motion, it could create a visual illusion of movement that doesn't match the signals from the inner ear and the muscle-position sensors. A mismatch among these three systems produces motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting.

      This reflex appears to be a defense against ingestion of neurotoxic poisons (such as those in some mushrooms and food-poisoning bacteria), using their disruption of the complex navigation system as an early warning and attempting to eliminate them from the digestive system before enough are absorbed to disable a critical system and kill the victim.
  • The pukesaber's Ipod jack lets it project the Brown Note [wikipedia.org] that causes an equal and opposite reaction in its targets.
  • that the people who make this aren't idiots, but....sunglasses?

  • To rig this technology up to George Bush's autocue? That would be fun :)
  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:52PM (#20135803)
    Would not that be quite dangerous for epileptic ? What about an epileptic, getting a crisis AND omitting at the same time. Guaranteed drowning in one own puke, followed by a civil lawsuit against the government? What about other condition which could threaten life if you start puking (I am not a biologist/doctor so there might be none but I ask) ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Error27 ( 100234 )
      Yeah. I completely agree.

      I've seen interview where police were talking about tazors and they said they were only dangerous in rare cases if the victim was on drugs. The official tazor policy is that it is always the drugs that kill them not the tazors. I believe that like I believe the cigarette advertising from the 50s. If you think about it, police are _most_ likely to use tazors in drugs situations.

      I read an article about a cop who killed a person accidentally with a tazor and he clearly seemed to fe
  • A Real Use (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aphxtwn ( 702841 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:54PM (#20135821)
    This might be good for poison control as an emetic with no side-effects. Combined with activated charcoal, this could save lives.
  • by Bloater ( 12932 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:57PM (#20135877) Homepage Journal
    They've been watching too much powerpuff girls.
  • Headlights (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @07:03PM (#20135919)
    That'll teach those slowpokes not to hog the left lane.
  • They have the LED Puke-Saber...

    Shortly afterwards, special contact lenses that filter the "puke color" out are developed, neutralizing the effects.

  • One-way mirror sunglasses!
  • I call bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Monday August 06, 2007 @08:43PM (#20136813)
    This sounds like yet another nonsense variation of the brown note myth. absolute rubbish. makes me wish i knew some senators i could sell some snake oil to and get me a slice of defence budget pie.
  • by Tungbo ( 183321 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @10:58AM (#20142037)
    Can they be far behind ?

    Your genius is needed today more than ever, Spider.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?