Instead of beaming a flashing light or shouting over a loudspeaker to keep people away from sensitive areas, new technology being developed could allow troops to fire a laser that can form a “plasma ball” that talks to the potential intruders.
The Laser-Induced Plasma Effect program is part of the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate program to find ways to deter, stun, and basically stop adversaries short of killing them.
Use of directed energy, or lasers, includes heating up a target’s skin to extremely uncomfortable levels without burning them, blasting confusing noises, or giving voice commands such as “stop or we’ll be forced to fire upon you.”
It can pass through glass into a building but not yet penetrate other solid barriers. So in its initial stages, the technology would be best used to protect static areas such as forward bases or permanent installations.
But with the right power source setup, a device could be mounted to a small vehicle and make for mobile crowd control or another tool for vehicle patrols to keep people away from convoys.