This could be almost as much fun as a blowgun and curare-laden darts. Except, of course, that the kinder, gentler weaponry from Taser International is intended to have nonlethal results.
Up to now, Taser stun guns have been short-range gadgets that deliver their jolt of electricity through wires linking the gun and the projectile. (Think Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman getting zapped in Meet the Fockers.) On Monday, the company plans to introduce its first-ever wireless device in Chicago at the Taser Tactical Conference for members of law enforcement and military organizations,
Taser's new XREP packs its neuromuscular punch in a self-contained half-ounce projectile, the company says. Another convenient feature is that the XREP can be fired from a standard 12-gauge shotgun.
Taser plans to start a field test of the XREP in the fall. After six to 12 months of testing, it's expected to get a full production release sometime in 2008. The company is being stingy about sharing details of the wireless zapper in the days before Monday's unveiling, but more than a year ago, the word was that a forthcoming Taser shotgun projectile might work at ranges approaching 100 feet.
By comparison, the consumer-oriented Taser C2 has a range of just 15 feet. Plus, those annoying wires.
While you're waiting for more information, you might pass the time by keeping track of how nonlethal Tasers weapons are. The company makes it easy, with conveniently labeled and enumerated press releases like this one from June 22: "51st Product Liability Lawsuit Dismissed Against TASER."