Pentagon to launch laser technology that creates ‘spooky’ voices and visual illusions

Pentagon to launch laser technology that creates ‘spooky’ voices and visual illusions
The U.S. military’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program is developing a weapon that can alter atoms to "create words from thin air." (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Within three years, the Pentagon expects to launch new technology for a “direct energy weapon” that can create spooky voices and visual illusions, according to Defense One.

What can it do?

The technology is being developed by the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program, or JNLWD, uses what is called the Laser-Induced Plasma Effect to create “words from thin air.” That means the military can create effects that sound like “a haunted walkie talkie” or images such as a “biblical burning bush,” the military news magazine reported.

Defense One explains:

“The weapon is composed of two parts: first, a femtosecond laser, which shoots a burst of focused light for 10−15 seconds, just long enough to rip the electrons from air molecules and create a ball of plasma. (Sometimes called the fourth state of matter, plasma is a field of electrified gas, highly responsive to electromagnetic effects.) The scientists then hit that plasma field with a second nanolaser, tuned to an extremely narrow range of wavelengths. They use that to manipulate the plasma field in a way that can produce light and noise. Get the interaction precise enough and you get something that sounds like a haunted walkie-talkie.”

The technology will also be used to create noise, light, and heat.

“We’re this close to getting it to speak to us. I need three or four more kilohertz,” David Law, who leads the JNLWD’s technology division, told Defense One. “Ultimately, he wants a single system that can produce multiple effects — noise, light, even heat — and replace a wide variety of non-lethal weapons that the military has been testing. We have the exclusive video.”

The system can be used to project noise (or voices) at a specific and distant point in space instead of broadcasting sound from a speaker. That means soldiers between the weapon and a target are not affected, the report states.

How is the sound projected?

Mirrors are used to project the distance at which the sound is heard.

“Range is a function of the optics. The bigger the mirrors, the farther the range,” Law said. A five-inch mirror creates the effect about one kilometer away; an 8-inch mirror, about five kilometers,” Law told Defense One. “They’ve created plasmas at 20 or 30 kilometers,” he said. “This is the first non-lethal weapon that could go out tens of kilometers.”

In the following video, the technology is used to create what sounds like a human voice.

A second video describes the technology as “non-lethal laser-induced plasma effects (flash-bang and thermal discomfort effects and long-range intelligible voice commands).”