LRAD Corporation Says Sales Of Sonic Blaster Are Booming
10News.com / January 3, 2012
Business is booming for a San Diego company that is making its presence felt – and heard – at protests, including the “Occupy” movement.
The LRAD, or long-range acoustic device, is the creation of the LRAD Corporation, which is based in Carmel Mountain and employs about 40 employees. The device was initially used the military on ships and vehicles to issue warnings. Now, the LRAD is being used by law enforcement during “Occupy” protests.
Unlike a normal loudspeaker, the LRAD can create a concentrated beam of sound. A message from an LRAD could clearly be heard from a distance about the length of a football field. The clarity also extends a distance 10 times longer.
“It can be used to prevent a situation from getting to where there’s violence involved,” said Nancho Lopez, the vice president of product development at LRAD Corporation. “The LRAD isn’t used to hurt anybody. It’s used to communicate a message clearly.”
About 100 law enforcement agencies now have a sonic cannon, including the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
LRAD’s revenues in fiscal year 2011 were up 57 percent to $26 million.
However, questions of safety continue to linger. A professor has filed a lawsuit claiming permanent hearing damage while at a 2009 Pittsburgh protest of the G-20 summit, where a LRAD device was used. When asked how sure he was that the LRAD does not cause permanent damage, Lopez replied, “I’m very confident.”
Company engineers said sound levels are kept under the federal standards that could cause permanent hearing damage.
Other uses for the device include search and rescue along with emergency response. It was used after Hurricane Katrina to inform flood victims.