IBM Files Patent for Bullet Dodging Bionic Body Armor

By James Anderson •  Updated: 02/13/09 •  3 min read

IBM has filed a patent (US 7484451) for Bionic Body Armor, that could essentially allow us to dodge bullets like Neo in The Matrix. The armor would scan areas for incoming projectiles and when one is detected the system would deliver a shock to the muscles causing a swift reflexive action away from the projectile.

Here’s what the patent describes the body armor as:

“A method of protecting a target from a projectile propelled from a firearm comprises detecting an approaching projectile, continuously monitoring the projectile and transmitting an actual position of the projectile to a controller, computing an estimated projectile trajectory based upon the actual position of the projectile, determining an actual position of a target with a plurality of position sensors and a plurality of attitude sensors, determining whether the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, and triggering a plurality of muscle stimulators operably coupled to the controller and to the target when the estimated projectile trajectory coincides with the actual position of the target, wherein the muscle stimulators stimulate the target to move in a predefined manner, and wherein the target moves by an amount sufficient to avoid any contact with the approaching projectile. The projectile may be detected in the detecting step by emitting an electromagnetic wave from a projectile detector and receiving the electromagnetic wave after the electromagnetic wave has been reflected back toward the projectile detector by the projectile.

Historically, certain individuals have been exposed to the threat of assassination because of their status in society. Examples of these individuals include, but are not limited to, high ranking politicians, clerics, successful industrial entrepreneurs, and military personnel. These individuals tend to be most vulnerable during those times when they are publicly addressing large crowds, making them easy targets for snipers.

In the past, the only effective protection against “sniper fire” has been to wear bullet proof body armor. Numerous types of bullet proof body armor are available, many of which are constructed of multiple layers of ballistic fabric or other ballistic-resistant materials assembled into a ballistic panel. However, bullet proof body armor is typically heavy, clumsy, and uncomfortable to wear, and generally leaves the head of the individual wearing the body armor completely unprotected and exposed. Furthermore using armor-piercing ammunition renders body-armors even less effective and desirable.

When a marksman (such as a sniper) is attempting to fire a projectile from a firearm, the marksman typically prefers to be as far away from the target as possible, thus giving him or her a head start for the escape after the firing. As an example, the longest reported sniper hit was from a distance of about 2500 meters, resulting in a time of flight of about 4 seconds for the projectile/bullet. Had the target been aware of the inbound projectile, avoiding it by simply walking away would have been possible. As almost everyone can appreciate, the best protection against the damage caused by an impacting projectile is to avoid being hit in the first place.

Based on the foregoing, there exists a need for an improved system and method for protecting an individual against the potential damage caused by being impacted by a projectile propelled from a firearm.

UPDATE: IBM has since, pulled the patent. So much for dodging bullets