Hands-on with the Taser shotgun, and other non-lethal fun
Geeks love electricity and guns, so, when a company brings both together and paints the result bright yellow, we can't help but get excited.
Taser International is a CES regular. This year, the company's staff were at the trade show in force, demonstrating its new technology and offering to fry anyone daft enough to volunteer. The highlight of its new range is a shotgun with self-contained bullets of electrical agony.
As ludicrous as Tasers are, we can't help but be drawn to the bright yellow guns and incredible electrical power. Most incredible is the Taser X12 shotgun, which can fire a projectile up to 25 metres -- most Tasers can only be used from 5 metres away -- and doesn't have wires attached to the gun itself.
The cartridge is entirely self-contained, has little fold-out wings that keep it stable in flight and is designed to puncture the target's skin to deliver its electrical punch.
When the shotgun cartridge hits, it breaks into two parts. The first part delivers a charge, but needs the second part to touch skin in order to complete the circuit and deliver that debilitating voltage.
But Taser says that, in cases where the second part doesn't touch the skin, stupid criminals will always reach up to pull the first part out. This achieves the same goal, completing the circuit and delivering the debilitating charge.
The shotgun model is only sold to law-enforcement professionals, so don't expect to be able to buy one from Dixons. There's some concern among researchers in the UK, who say this new shotgun system isn't safe to use. Taser disputes their claims. It says it's improved the cartridges with a firmware update and fixed some problems with the charge lasting 5 minutes, instead of 5 seconds.
Other new models include the C2. It has new built-in technology that locks the gun, preventing it from being used until the owner goes through an online identification process and background check.
Update: A previous version of this story contained references to the author's views on Tasers, which have been removed.