Pittsburgh residents holding their ears. Photo by Margaretkilljoy.

Pittsburgh residents holding their ears. Photo by Margaretkilljoy.

By now, everyone has heard about the G20 summit being held in Pittsburgh, and everyone has probably heard about the expected protests and marches – but did you know that Pittsburgh was also the first place that an LRAD system was used in the United States?

LRAD, otherwise known as “Long Range Acoustic Device” is a device used for crowd-control and long-range communication. The LRAD equipment, mounted atop armored police vehicles, was used to play recorded warning messages that ordered gathered crowds to disperse. Aside from being used as a very loud megaphone, it was also used to emit ear-splitting noise – this 45 pound satellite dish lookalike can deliver up to 155 decibels of sound (up to nearly 2 miles).

According to an article about noise-indiced hearing loss, the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders) basically states that anything over 85 dB can begin to inflict hearing loss… In addition, “The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before noise-induced hearing loss can occur”.

Because the LRAD was invented by American Technology Corporation as a “directed-sounds communications system“, LRAD equipment has been sold to the  Chinese government – despite the 1989 China Arms Ban that was put in place after Tiananmen Square. The device itself was originally supposed to be used for long-range communication between ships.

LRAD equipped vehicles have been present on other occasions within the United States, but were never actually used in America until the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh – they are usually used/tested in Iraq.

LRAD USA Debut - Flickr Photos by Margaretkilljoy

LRAD USA Debut – Flickr Photos by Margaretkilljoy

Learn more about how it works at HowStuffWorks.com
Pitt News was among the first to report the LRAD debut in Pittsburgh