BYU’s origami-inspired Kevlar shield pops up in seconds to block bullets

Unless modern criminals are easily distracted by paper cranes, “life-saving” probably isn’t the first word you’d think to use to describe the ancient Japanese paper-folding art of origami.

That may be about to change, however, courtesy of a new research project coming out of Utah’s Brigham Young University. What engineers at BYU have developed is an origami-inspired, lightweight bulletproof shield designed to protect officers from gunfire.

“Our lab has been looking at different origami-based concepts,” Larry Howell, professor of mechanical engineering, told Digital Trends. “For example, we’ve previously worked with NASA to create deployable space systems that are very compact for launch, and which can then expand in space. We’ve also worked on surgical applications, where you could get something to enter the body through a small incision, and then unfold to carry out complex tasks. However, the idea of using this research to create a barrier was a new opportunity for us.”

Created by the university’s Compliant Mechanisms Research group, the Kevlar barrier is a freestanding shield structure, which can be erected in just a matter of seconds. It is built with 12 layers of Kevlar, which are fused together with a thin aluminum core in the center, based on an origami fold pattern called Yoshimura. This is ideal because not only does it open quickly, but it also has a curved shape that protects from both the front and sides.

In testing, the shield was shown to be able to stop bullets from several common handguns.

“In an emergency situation, the origami shield can be transported easily in the trunk of a car, carried to the location, and deployed quickly to protect two to three officers,” Terri Bateman, adjunct professor of engineering at BYU, told Digital Trends. “Other products on the market are heavier — up to 90 pounds — must be held up by the user, and are flat. During the development process, the professors and students in our lab were highly motivated by the thought that this product could save lives.”

The next step is to further refine the shield, and make improvements so it can be easily manufactured. There are also other variations the team is interested in developing such as a smaller model for an individual officer, or ones that could potentially be used in public buildings (such as schools) to protect inhabitants in the case of a shooting.


Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.