According to those unfortunate enough to find themselves blasted by the US military’s newest non-lethal crowd control weapon, the sensation is one of intense discomfort and heat.
The “heat beam,” officially known as the Active Denial System, has been in development for over 15 years but has never been used in the field. It uses an electromagnetic beam at a frequency of 95 gigahertz to create a feeling of intense heat on subjects.
Applications include controlling crowds and deterring individuals from specific actions. The beam’s range is around a thousand metres but penetrates only half a millimetre into the skin.
"You're not gonna see it, you're not gonna hear it, you're not gonna smell it: you're gonna feel it," US Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The ray has been used in testing extensively, with 11,000 test exposures - two requiring medical attention. US officials urge it is safe because of the low penetrating ability of the ray, and because of the automatic shut-off incorporated into the operation of the weapon after a three second blast. It's currently only available in a vehicle-mounted form, but portable versions are in the works.
Even so, we don't think we'd like to be in range of this ray when it is fired... especially after watching this video, showing the reactions of those subjected to the beam.