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New technology could signal the end of laser attacks

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.   

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