Innovations for a Violent World

Tens of thousands of Islamic Jihad loyalists gathered in Gaza on October 30, 2009, holding plastic models of rockets and wearing masks and mock suicide bomber’s vests.    Hatem Moussa/AP Photo

7 October, 2013
(  If necessity is the mother of invention, we should be very afraid.Among the thousands of recently granted U.S. patents: an invention to contain suicide bombers, technology that prevents you from getting shot by a friend, and an easier way to grab your gun while in bed so you can, well, rest in peace.

Many of these patents are related to warfare. A search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website turned up more than 40 patents granted in the past month that make reference to “warfare,” be it biological, chemical, electronic or urban.

One patent I found is designed to make military exercises more realistic by placing sensors on a soldier’s vest and helmet. When a combatant is hit by an infrared “bullet,” the sensors trigger the discharge of plumes of dust to imitate someone getting hit by actual rounds. The idea here is to give shooters more vivid, real-time feedback on their “kills.”

To find out more about some of these patents, check out our slideshow. That is, if you haven’t crawled back under your covers.