A consulting firm with a background in lightning warning systems has come up with a fabric that takes the powerful sting out of being hit with a stun gun or a cattle prod.
Thor Shield is a polyester fabric bonded to a conducted material that effectively loops the electricity coming from a nonlethal electricity weapon back to the weapon.
"If you are hit, the Taser gun won't work," said Greg Schultz, co-owner of G2 Consulting in Tucson, Ariz., which invented Thor Shield. "We return the voltage back to the gun."
Tasers and other electricity weapons work by jolting a person's body with enough electricity to overwhelm their neuromuscular system. When fired, a Taser launches two probes, connected to the gun by wires. When the probes hit a person's body, they create a circuit and 50,000 volts that pass through an individual's system.
A hit from a stun gun is incredibly painful and knocks individuals instantly to the ground in most circumstances. For maximum effect, the probes need to land four inches apart.
Because Thor Shield is conductive, it can complete the circuit with probes without having the electricity pass through an individual's body. In a video submitted by G2--and not independently tested by CNET News.com--Greg Williams, G2's other co-owner, takes a jolt to the head from a stun gun but remains unfazed. He is wearing a cap made of the material, according to G2. He also remains nonchalant in a Thor Shield windbreaker after being repeatedly zapped.
The Thor Shield fabric comes in different thicknesses. The thinnest version is only about a thirty-second of an inch thick and can be sewn into clothes.
"You can cut it with scissors. It is actually breathable," he said.
Schultz came up with the idea one night while watching a TV special on stun guns. "I thought, 'it is low amperage electricity. It can't be that difficult to send it back to the guy," he said. "The tough part was coming up with fabric that was breathable and won't come apart."
Thrill seekers, however, shouldn't look for Thor Shield at New York Fabrics. G2 sells the material only under nondisclosure agreements to law enforcement agencies and the military. The idea behind the fabric is that it could prevent officers from being hurt by their own weapons.
Recently in Ohio, for instance, a criminal suspect allegedly took a stun gun away from a police officer and shot her. This week, a similar incident occurred in Arizona.
"We're not going to put this on eBay or anything," he said. "This is negative in that it neutralizes their weapon, but it is positive in that it neutralizes a threat."
Still, G2 could spawn imitators, which could create headaches for stun gun manufacturers and police agencies, many of which have said that stun guns reduce the number of incidents in which police officers have to fire bullets.
Some law enforcement agencies are already in contact with the company. G2 has contacted Taser, but the company has not replied to G2. Taser did not returned calls for comment.
Controversy surrounds electricity weapons. Some organizations allege that the weapons have been responsible for some injuries and deaths. The guns can also be bought by consumers.
Several police agencies, however, say the weapons work well and give officers an alternative to guns in many situations. Medical studies sponsored by Taser and peer reviewed by physicians have shown no lasting health effects from a hit from one of the guns.
Schultz worked for several years as an engineer, building lightning detection systems like electric field mills. These machines, which monitor atmospheric stability and ambient electrical activity, get placed near structures that attract lightning, such as roller coasters. If the field mill sounds a warning, the structure or area can be evacuated.