(CNET) — A new patent granted to aircraft, defense and security company Boeing is taking its cues from science fiction. Just like the glowing energy shields seen protecting troops, machines and even spacecraft in Star Wars and Star Trek, the design -- named "Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" -- uses energy to deflect potential damage.
As it is described, the system is not designed to prevent direct impact from shells or shrapnel; rather, it is designed to protect a target -- such as a vehicle or building -- from the damaging effects of shockwaves from a nearby impact.
The patent is for a shockwave attenuation system, which consists of a sensor capable of detecting a shockwave-generating explosion and an arc generator that receives the signal from the sensor to ionise a small region, producing a plasma field between the target and the explosion using lasers, electricity and microwaves.
Advertisement - story continues below