Snake Tanks, Forensic Cameras, Quick-Draw Goggles: Military Tech’s New Powers

The best new gadgets and technology from the Police Magazine’s law enforcement expo.

shark laser beam


You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done…. Throw me a bone here! What do we have?

How about snakes, Dr. Evil?

At Police Magazine‘s recent law enforcement expo, an army of exhibitors showed off the latest high-tech gadgets that’d satisfy the most elite SWAT teams, special forces–and even the bad guy from from Austin Powers. Applications for the devices showcased ranged from homeland security to overseas military efforts. Here are the top three highlights from the expo.

ARE Innovations. Police officers have to be quick on the draw, but how do they improve their reaction speeds? ARE co-owner Jim Bolen created a novel method: goggles that can instantly blind and then restore vision. Imagine having a blindfold removed–how fast could you locate a target after that disorientating affect? According to experiments done by ARE, officers who trained with the goggles responded to threats three seconds faster–a massive improvement if you consider what a difference those crucial seconds can make. The goggles were originally designed to help wide-receivers field passes quicker, but they’ve since been re-purposed for law enforcement and military use.

Department of Homeland Security
. When tragedy strikes on an airplane, the details of any incident can be pieced together thanks to a black box, the seemingly indestructible recording device installed on every commercial liner. Yet for whatever reason, that technology does not exist for trains, buses, subways, and other common systems of mass transit. The Homeland Security Department is trying to change that. Based on the black box concept, the DHS is developing “forensic cameras,” highly durable and cost-effective devices designed to withstand the worst crash. In a test last year, 16 prototype cameras were attached to a bus rigged with explosives. After the DHS blew said bus to pieces, 14 survived, containing memory chips with video and audio that could give clues to investigators in the event of an emergency. The cameras have even been tested in 1,700 degree Fahrenheit heat–and survived.


Simulator Systems. This Oklahoma-based engineering-firm has designed three kinds of tactical robots inspired to some degree by snakes–at least they’re named after them: the Copperhead, Sidewinder, and Python. According to sales rep Terrance Blacknell, “The Python can tow about 200 pounds, climb stairs and blast someone with a taser or pepper spray.”

Next up: “The Alan Parsons Project.”


About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.