Halifax tech firm says new eyewear protects against laser attacks

A Halifax technology company has begun commercial production on protective eyewear that it says can protect pilots and military personnel from the growing threat of potentially disabling laser strikes.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. said the aviator-style metaAIR eyewear, which will be available for commercial use in a few months, refracts laser light using a photosensitive material called photopolymer.

The federal government announced Friday the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will invest $3 million in the eyewear.

CEO George Palikaras said a laser scribing process changes the molecular structure of the photopolymer and creates a nanostructure that interacts destructively with light, causing laser light to refract off the plastic lens like a mirror.

During a news conference and demonstration, Palikaras said the eyewear can protect pilots, police and the military from threats similar to what the Pentagon said this week were laser attacks on U.S. military aircraft by Chinese personnel in Djibouti.

The federal investment will be used to increase the product's manufacturing capacity to meet the demands of partners including Airbus.