Throughout the years, the CIA has developed some pretty interesting spy tools, but one of the most fascinating was the CIA’s dragonfly.
It was a bug-sized spy that was an incredible technical achievement in the 1970s.
Back then, listening devices were a newer espionage tool.
But the CIA designed a small insect-looking device that contained retroreflectors. These are tiny glass beads that reflect laser light back to it’s source.
The reflected laser beam is altered by vibration in glass, which changes the distance that the beam travels.
When the laser is reflected back to its source, the team could analyze and recreate the vibrations.
Essentially, they were extracting sound from light. The sound was the conversation they were trying to listen to.
During testing, the retroreflectors acted as a remote microphone that could listen in on conversations.
But the issue was getting the tiny device to an embassy window or other location the CIA wanted to listen in on.
The CIA came up with a plan to create a device that could fly. After testing, they concluded that the shape and size of a dragonfly would be the best choice because of its aerodynamics.
When the dragonfly drone was complete it weighed under a gram, and its eyes were retroreflector beads to return the laser beam.
The CIA dragonfly turned out to be an incredible engineering feat. But unfortunately, laboratory testing is a lot different than real-life operations.
The problem was the person operating the dragonfly had to keep the laser trained on the dragonfly the entire time it was in flight. This was a lot easier said than done.
While the device worked in testing, any amount of wind in the real world would throw it off track.
The program to develop the dragonfly cost $140,000, about $2 million today. The dragonfly was never determined to be mission capable and the project was shut down.
But lasers have come a long way in how they can be used for good and bad. They’re more powerful and cheaper to buy, and will likely be used more often for bad purposes.
Unfortunately, these days, some people use lasers to shine in people’s eyes. During the 2020 protests, police around the country were targeted by people with lasers.
With that being said, here are a few ideas to help protect your eyes from criminals with lasers.
Protective eyewear is the easiest and most effective way to protect your eyes from a laser.
Regular sunglasses can do an okay job at protecting your eyes. But it depends on what product the lens of the glasses are made with.
If you are going to be in a situation such as a protest or mob, you may want to be more prepared.
In this case, consider specific eyewear for laser protection such as ones from a company called Revision Military.
Don’t touch your eyes:
When your eyes are exposed to a laser it can have a range of effects, including blindness, dark spots, hazy vision, and burning.
Depending on how powerful the laser is, it could cause serious injuries to the eye.
When your eye is hit with a laser your natural reaction is to rub your eyes. The pain you feel makes you want to rub them to alleviate the pain.
But if your eyes are already irritated, and you rub them, it can produce small scratches on the cornea, and make the problem worse.
So, if your eyes get hit with a laser try not to touch them. Instead, wait to see if your vision comes back on its own.
LAPD officers have recently seen an increase in being hit with lasers.
The department released a memo telling officers that the best thing they can do is to get away from the laser.
This is a lot easier to say than to do, but you should think about a laser in much the same way you would think about a sniper.
What I mean is, they could be from an elevated position and your only choice might be to get away.
If you are being targeted by a laser, get inside as fast as you can. If there is nowhere to go then get down and protect your eyes.
You should look up only to look for threats, and get out of the area as fast as you can.
If you think that you have been the victim of someone blinding you with a laser you should report it to the police.
Hopefully, you never run into this, but criminals will try anything these days.