Since the early 1900’s we have had major breakthroughs in technology, mainly in the military aspect. It seems that any breakthrough in technology we have is either directly resulted from military research or will have military applications considered.
In the last thirty to forty years there has been the most development. We have effectively gone from using or needing the wheel to microchips, relays and circuitry. Now we are pushing the envelope even further, going for smaller sizes with larger capacity. From a military standpoint, instead of going for the MOAB (mother of all bombs) and high fallout weapons, we have moved on to precision striking, UAV (unmanned aeriel vehicle), and what is becoming more commonly seen in the military and civilian enforcement is sound. Most notably the LRAD (long range acoustic device).
The LRAD, developed by the LRAD Corporation (original right?), has been showing up in military practice since early 2004 as a long range communications device. Though its primary function might be just that, increasing the decibel count and directing the sound in short bursts towards people within 100 meters, gives them a “mild headache”. Not sure what their definition on a mild headache is but in 2004 Carl Gruenier, former vice president of military and government associations for the LRAD Corporation said being within 100 meters is “extremely painful”.
Since then it has been surfacing up in protests, possible rioting conditions, and as preventative measures; most notably 2009 Pittsburgh G20 Summit, 2011 Super Bowl and the 2012 London Olympics.
Whether or not this device is going to be a pivotal member of every riot control squad in every police department is heresay, but in 2008 a Liberian vessel MV Biscaglia was attacked in 2008 by pirates wherein the security force deployed their LRAD device and were still boarded and seized. So this goes to show that it is not a cure all to the crowd control problem. In my mind though, it is definitely better than being shot with a bean bag gun.