China has apparently invented a new form of futuristic non-lethal weapon—which is pretty handy if some of its biggest cities are going to continue protesting against a lack of democracy.
The Poly WB-1 uses millimeter-thick microwave wave beams that heat up the water molecules under the skin, which causes unbelievable pain when the gun is pointed at you. (The US has its own microwave pain gun that was supposed to be used in Afghanistan but was recalled over ethics and technical issues.) China reportedly wants to mount its new guns on ships that patrol disputed waters, but don’t be surprised to find that they are being carried by riot police sooner rather than later.
This comes as a report from Thomson Reuters suggests that China “is leading the world in innovation.” The company highlights the dramatic increase in applications for “invention” patents, which have doubled compared to the US and Japan since 2010. It seems, after years of making lesser technology on behalf of others, China is focusing more on innovaton. Could more weird and painful weaponry be on the way?
Maybe, but maybe not. The growth in patents is driven by government strategy, with Communist Party apparatchiks dictating that local firms need to apply for 2 million patents by 2015. But The Economist notes that many of the innovations are less than substantial. The magazine also looked to assess the quality of the patents by surfacing what patents were also filed abroad—a sign that the patent in question is good enough to protect everywhere.
“Only about 5% of patents filed by local firms in China last year were also filed abroad, whereas over a third of patents originally filed by local firms in Japan were also filed elsewhere,” The Economist said. Can innovation be driven by government orders? Probably not.
But anyone who questions Beijing’s orders probably fears finding themselves on the receiving end of a microwave stun-gun burst—and will likely keep quiet.