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15 Feb 2016

New technology could signal the end of laser attacks

The laser strip on a police visor

A protective eye strip developed at Loughborough University to protect police from laser attacks has significantly reduced the use of lasers during riots in Northern Ireland where it is used.

The visor strip, which is so effective it has changed protestor behaviour, could also achieve the same results in the aviation industry, where laser crime is on the increase.

Professor John Tyrer is an expert in laser safety at Loughborough University. He initially developed the visor film for the Police Service of Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Home Office.

The specially engineered strip fixes to the top of the police visor and allows full usability of the helmet, unlike goggles which impair vision and are difficult to use in low light levels. The strips can be easily and quickly deployed by dropping the sight line of the visor when required. 

The strips could be easily adapted for use by pilots during take-off and landing.

Laser crime is a growing problem for the aviation industry. A total of 414 "laser incidents" in the UK were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority between January and June 2015. In 2014, there were 1,440 reported UK incidents.

Professor Tyrer said:

“Laser attacks present a horrendous problem which is worsening with the easy availability of low-cost, high power lasers.

“Until now pilots have had little protection from such antisocial attacks. Protective goggles limit vision so are not safe for them to use.

“Our visor film could be attached to a pair of over-glasses that the pilot and their co-pilot can wear at take-off and landing, without limiting their vision or functionality. We are already exploring the film’s use for helicopter pilots.”

The technology was developed at Loughborough University and has been commercialised through Laser Optical Engineering Ltd, a company set-up to take laser research to industry.   

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 16/22

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About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

About Laser Optical Engineering Ltd
Laser Optical Engineering Ltd (LOE) is an expert technology company, specialising in the development of innovative and bespoke laser based imaging products and services. Established as an independent spin-out company from Loughborough University in 1996, LOE is a customer focused company offering you access to a range of expertise. We pride ourselves on an ability to turn theoretical ideas into commercial products which can be used in real-life situations.

We are an ISO9001 certified company providing a comprehensive package of products and support services with full documentation.

Contact for all media enquiries

Amanda Overend
PR Manager
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697

E: a.j.overend@lboro.ac.uk