Pesky Pirates Be Gone, Thanks to One SD Company

Pirate attacks aren't the only thing one North County firm is helping prevent.

American Technology Corporation is the maker of Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD), which blast attackers with sound waves targeted in a specific direction.

The devices send out verbal warnings and loud blasts of ear-splitting noise that can cause excruciating headaches. Depending on the model used (the company has several different models), the device can broadcast warning tones of up to 151 decibels at one meter. Heavy traffic is considered to be around 70 decibels and the threshold for pain is 120 decibels, reported our media partner the North County Times. By producing the warning sounds at this intensity, the LRAD devices are considered a nonlethal weapon.

Just  last month the device was used by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, in a pirate attack off the Somali coast, according to media accounts. Also, on Wednesday, the firm announced the receipt of almost half a million dollars from DeTect Inc., a developer of radar systems to help aircraft avoid hitting birds.

These warning devices, which cost about $20,000, are used by the U.S. military as well as some cruise lines and freight companies. The firm is also looking to expand into new markets such as border enforcement and wildlife control in agriculture and other areas.

"This can be part of a 'virtual fence' rather than putting up billions of dollars of concrete and everything else that prevents wildlife from moving back and forth," said Robert Putnam, the company's spokesman. "They can be remotely operated and coupled with cameras, infrared and night-vision, and (agents) can not only see people crossing the border, but communicate with them."

American Technology Corp. said that they created the device after the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

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