Weapons Technology
MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio)
Microwave ray gun controls crowds with noise
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Microwave ray gun controls crowds with noise
July 2008 
by David Hambling

A US company claims it is ready to build a microwave ray gun able to beam sounds directly into people's heads.

The device - dubbed MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) - exploits the microwave audio effect, in which short microwave pulses rapidly heat tissue, causing a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. A series of pulses can be transmitted to produce recognisable sounds.

The device is aimed for military or crowd-control applications, but may have other uses.

Lev Sadovnik of the Sierra Nevada Corporation in the US is working on the system, having started work on a US navy research contract. The navy's report states that the effect was shown to be effective.
Scarecrow beam?

MEDUSA involves a microwave auditory effect "loud" enough to cause discomfort or even incapacitation. Sadovnik says that normal audio safety limits do not apply since the sound does not enter through the eardrums.

"The repel effect is a combination of loudness and the irritation factor," he says. "You can't block it out."

Sadovnik says the device will work thanks to a new reconfigurable antenna developed by colleague Vladimir Manasson. It steers the beam electronically, making it possible to flip from a broad to a narrow beam, or aim at multiple targets simultaneously.

Sadovnik says the technology could have non-military applications. Birds seem to be highly sensitive to microwave audio, he says, so it might be used to scare away unwanted flocks.

Sadovnik has also experimented with transmitting microwave audio to people with outer ear problems that impair their normal hearing.
Brain damage risk

James Lin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago says that MEDUSA is feasible in principle.

He has carried out his own work on the technique, and was even approached by the music industry about using microwave audio to enhance sound systems, he told New Scientist.

"But is it going to be possible at the power levels necessary?" he asks. Previous microwave audio tests involved very "quiet" sounds that were hard to hear, a high-power system would mean much more powerful - and potentially hazardous - shockwaves.

"I would worry about what other health effects it is having," says Lin. "You might see neural damage."

Sierra Nevada says that a demonstration version could be built in a year, with a transportable system following within 18 months. They are currently seeking funding for the work from the US Department of Defence.

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SOURCE: New Scientist
 

Phase I Summary Report

Contact Information

 
Government Contact


Mr. George Gibbs
Email: george.gibbs@usmc.mil
Phone: (703)432-3676
Fax:

Point of Contact
Dr. Lev Sadovnik
Email: lsadovnik@waveband.com
Phone: (949)253-4019
Fax: (949)253-4089 

Firm Information
WaveBand Corporation
17152 Armstrong Avenue
Irvine, California 92614-5718
United States
http://www.wavebandcorp.com



Award Details
 
Contract #: M67854-04-C-1012 
Topic: N03-163 
Solicitation: 03.2 
SYSCOM: MARCOR 
Award Amount: $99,965.00 
Phase:
Program: Navy SBIR 
Start / End Date: 11/19/2003 - 05/19/2004 
FY Reported: 2004 
Title: Remote Personnel Incapacitation System 

Summary Information


Objective of Phase Effort

 
The main goal of the Phase I project wad to design and build a breadboard prototype of a temporary personnel incapacitation system called MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio). This non-lethal weapon is based on the well established microwave auditory effect (MAE). MAE results in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is irradiated with specifically selected microwave pulses of low energy. Through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to the "discomfort"? level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals.

Summary of Results from the Phase I Effort

The major results of the Phase I effort were that - An operating frequency was chosen - Hardware requirements were established (commercial magnetron, high-voltage pulse former) - Hardware was designed and built - Power measurements were taken and the required pulse parameters confirmed - Experimental evidence of MAE was observed 

Potential Applications and Benefits

Potential applications of the MEDUSA system are as a perimeter protection sensor in deterrence systems for industrial and national sites, for use in systems to assist communication with hearing impaired persons, use by law enforcement and military personnel for crowd control and asset protection. The system will: be portable, require low power, have a controllable radius of coverage, be able to switch from crowd to individual coverage, cause a temporarily incapacitating effect, have a low probability of fatality or permanent injury, cause no damage to property, and have a low probability of affecting friendly personnel.

Questions or problems? Email navysbirprogram@qinetiq-na.com.

The Microwave Scream Inside Your Skull
..
 The main goal of the Phase I project wad to design and build a breadboard prototype of a temporary personnel incapacitation system called MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio). This non-lethal weapon is based on the well established microwave auditory effect (MAE). MAE results in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is irradiated with specifically selected microwave pulses of low energy. Through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to the “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals.

The Microwave Scream Inside Your Skull
By David Hambling
July 06, 2008
 

The U.S. military bankrolled early development of a non-lethal microwave weapon that creates sound inside your head. But in the end, the gadget may be just as likely to wind up in shopping malls as on battlefields, as I report in New Scientist

The project is known as MEDUSA – a contrived acronym for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio. And it should not be confused with the Long Range Acoustic Device and similar gadgets which simply project sound. This one uses the so-called "microwave auditory effect": a beam of microwaves is turned into sound by the interaction with your head. Nobody else can hear it unless they are in the beam as well. 

The effect has long been a laboratory curiosity, with no application. But, over the years, the military has been intrigued. The idea (dubbed "the telepathic ray gun") was mentioned in a 1998 US Army study, which turned up in a recent Freedom of Information Act document dump. Five years later, the Navy decided to put some R&D dollars into the project. Now, as I note on the New Scientist website, Dr. Lev Sadovnik of the Sierra Nevada Corporation has provided more details.

 
There are health risks, he notes. But the biggest issue from the microwave weapon is not the radiation. It's the risk of brain damage from the high-intensity shockwave created by the microwave pulse. Clearly, much more research is needed on this effect at the sort of power levels that Dr. Sadovnik is proposing. But if it does prove hazardous, that does not mean an end to weapons research in this area: a device that delivered a lethal shockwave inside the target's skull might make an effective death ray. 

Dr. Sadovnik also makes the intriguing suggestion that, instead of being used at high power to create an intolerable noise, it might be used at low power to produce a whisper that was too quiet to perceive consciously but might be able to subconsciously influence someone. The directional beam could be used for targeted messages, such as in-store promotions. Sadovnik even suggests subliminal advertising, beaming information that is not consciously heard (a notion also spotted on the US Army's voice-to-skull page). While the effectiveness of subliminal persuasion is dubious, I can see there might be some organizations interested in this capability. And if that doesn't work, you could always point the thing at birds. They seem to be highly sensitive to microwave audio, so it might be used to scare flocks away from wind farms -- or shoo pigeons from city streets.

Related Links:

SOURCE: Wired Blog
The Other MEDUSA: A Microwave Sound Weapon

By Sharon Weinberger
August 16, 2007

MEDUSA appears to be a popular name for directed energy weapons. There's the MEDUSA I wrote about yesterday, a high-energy beam weapon one company hopes could destroy tanks and planes. And then there's another MEDUSA, a nonlethal microwave weapon that was briefly funded by the Navy that uses "silent audio" (the auditory effect from microwaves). In other words, it makes you hear things in your head:

The idea of the "Voice of God" weapon (a weapon that makes you hear voices in your head) has been around for a while, and this small business contract was but one one modest, and likely unrelated, offshoot of other microwave-auditory effect research. The company stated at the end of "phase one" of this research: "An operating frequency was chosen - Hardware requirements were established (commercial magnetron, high-voltage pulse former) - Hardware was designed and built - Power measurements were taken and the required pulse parameters confirmed - Experimental evidence of MAE was observed."

SOURCE: Wired Blog

The Other MEDUSA: A Microwave Sound Weapon

By Sharon Weinberger
August 16, 2007

MEDUSA appears to be a popular name for directed energy weapons. There's the MEDUSA I wrote about yesterday, a high-energy beam weapon one company hopes could destroy tanks and planes. And then there's another MEDUSA, a nonlethal microwave weapon that was briefly funded by the Navy that uses "silent audio" (the auditory effect from microwaves). In other words, it makes you hear things in your head:

The idea of the "Voice of God" weapon (a weapon that makes you hear voices in your head) has been around for a while, and this small business contract was but one one modest, and likely unrelated, offshoot of other microwave-auditory effect research. The company stated at the end of "phase one" of this research: "An operating frequency was chosen - Hardware requirements were established (commercial magnetron, high-voltage pulse former) - Hardware was designed and built - Power measurements were taken and the required pulse parameters confirmed - Experimental evidence of MAE was observed."

SOURCE: Wired Blog

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