As a part of a military initiative called the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWP), the project aims to create laser weapons that can transmit clear snippets of human speech across long distances. To accomplish this task, the weapon uses a principle called the Laser Induced Plasma Effect, which involves firing an incredibly powerful laser to create a ball of plasma, then shooting a second laser to oscillate the plasma, creating sound waves. With enough laser bursts fired at the right frequencies, the plasma vibrations can actually mimic human speech.
It sounds like science fiction — but, according to the news site MilitaryTimes.com, a military-ready version of the weapon may be available in as few as five years. In a video shared by The Times, an early version of the weapon beams the phrase “stop or we’ll be forced to fire upon you” onto a wall several feet away, using only flashing light. This technology will enable military personnel to target specific people with messages or warnings while putting themselves at minimal risk.