Jul 18, 2023 - Business

Professor's invention uses light to temporarily blind active shooters

A Lightguard prototype, designed to stop active shooters. Photo: Courtesy of Lightguard

A University of Miami professor has invented a nonlethal device that could temporarily blind an active shooter.

What's happening: Brian Arwari, director of the university's Neuro-Cognitive Kinesiology lab, led a team of engineers to develop Lightguard, a wall-mounted system with an array of flashing high-powered LEDs.

  • When triggered by a remote control — either by a person in the room or someone watching via security cameras — its flashing lights could make an assailant temporarily blind for 10–20 seconds and impair their vision for a few minutes.
  • The flashing patterns could disorient a shooter and make them nauseous, stopping their plan of attack.
  • This animation shows how it could work.

What they're saying: Arwari tells Axios that the police and military experts he's consulted with like Lightguard's immediacy. In most shootings, the damage is done before police arrive.

  • "If the assailant is startled by the system and runs away, nobody gets hurt in the first place," Arwari says. "If [police] do have to confront the armed assailant, they have a strong tactical advantage if he's visually impaired."

Zoom out: The FBI designated 50 active shooting incidents last year, including three in Florida.

Details: Lightguard is aimed toward critical points like doorways so only intended targets get hit with light.

  • Its software can instantly alert law enforcement, and the light can be extended for 30–40 minutes in an emergency.
  • The cost would depend on how many modules are needed for a space, but a typical installation could be between $500 and $2,000, Arwari says.
  • Arwari has tested the device on himself. "All you can think about is, 'I need to get this out of my face.' So, instinctually, you turn away, and you want to go in the other direction," he told Yahoo News.

What's next: A prototype is being tested while seeking investors.

  • The system could potentially be installed in shopping malls, offices, schools, synagogues and convenience stores.

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