IBM files Matrix style bullet dodging patent

I absolutely loved the scenes in the Matrix where Neo dodges bullets. Last week IBM was issued a patent that in theory would give us mortals that ability.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 11 Neo

The patent proposes a system where an external device monitors the area for incoming projectiles. If it detects a projectile headed near a person hooked into the system it can either shock their muscles in order to move their body a particular way to dodge the bullet, Neo style, or it could simply make the intended target collapse.

Picture 11-23
Figure from the patent.

From the patent:

The present invention relates generally to the protection of an individual against a projectile propelled from a firearm. More particularly, the present invention relates to a body armor system and its method of use that is capable of detecting a projectile propelled from a firearm, computing the trajectory of the projectile, and moving the individual out of the path of the projectile to avoid being hit.

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…. Furthermore using armor-piercing ammunition renders body-armors even less effective and desirable.

Picture 12-20
Obama surrounded by ballistic glass at the Inauguration.

At an event the size and important as a presidential Inauguration where the high ranking target can be protected this system is not really useful, but I can see how it could in situations where this kind of protection is just not possible.

Read the full patent here. UPDATE: IBM withdrew the patent. You can read a copy I made of it here.

A big thanks to Daniel Watters for the info.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Kilgor

    I don’t think a body can physically move fast enough to avoid a 3,300 fps projectile unless the sensors are 1/4 mile away. Maintaining a barrier of sensors for a 1/2 mile wide circle seems impractical for a moving target.

  • It would break a person to jerk them out of the way of something coming in at 2500FPS.

    Just sayin’.

    Oh, and an indirectly fired mortar shell would have been just the ticket for someone who thought they were safe in a silly open-top shell like that.

  • Concerned_Soldier

    The enemy will always have a way to overcome what ever protection we come up with.

    Water Proof, Wind Proof, and Bullet Proof aren’t always!



  • jdun1911

    Not going to work because it’s too slow.

    Anyway, linked to this article. I’m sure other blogs did too.

    More rams is need to prevent crash like you just experienced.

  • frankg

    One may research the martial arts to see what techniques they may have developed to counter firearms. IF any worked they would likely involve being close enough to the gunman to disable him, or, if at a distance, running and dodging into cover.
    I’ve read Wild Bill Hickock had a technique to make himself a small of a target in profile as possible in shoot outs (followed up with deliberate shooting on his part). Guns have improved since then, but it may be better than doing nothing.
    I have read of various encounters where people for whatever reason, lucked out when fighting unarmed against a gunman. Usually a dumb, careless criminal with a pistol, The victim having some tip off that the gunman was about to fire (i.e. motion of the trigger finger, cylinder of revolver began to rotate, gunman says, “now I will shoot you”, etc.), and a lucky notion of what to do to counter it (dodge, get behind hard cover, run, or in one case, the victim said something like, “there’s something in your gun barrel” and the gunman, in a lapse of judgment, looked down the barrel of his gun. He was promptly shot.).

  • This post is linked on Free Republic too.

    • Daniel and jdun: great to get some linkage 🙂

  • Ur Kidin

    With a pack of firecrackers i can make a monkey dance!

    Good times!

  • Alcibiades

    I saw a televsion show that featured a similar system, but it used pop-up panels (or something similar) to catch/stop the bullet. It seemed mostly geared to stopping handguns, though.

    Reading the patent, it actually is supposed to stop ranged fire (200 meters or more, with an emphasis on the “more”). It still is ridiculous to control the muscles of the person, though.

  • jdun1911

    The human body isn’t fast enough to dodge bullets even with the help of electronics. It is beyond the limitation of the human body.

  • jdun1911

    After reading Alcibiades post I guess it is possible as long as the projectile is detected ahead of time, like 200 yards or more.

  • Sean Nack

    vote for david, the secret service now has your name, address, and shoe size.

    i don’t know; let’s say this system worked for whatever reason, and a person covered by it was fired on, has his limbs waving around trying to avoid a wild shot, and breaks his arm on a nearby obstruction, or a bystander for that matter. or while he’s flailing about he falls down, and that action gives the gunman (or woman, we don’t discriminate) time to realign their shot(s) while they’re flat on the ground, or say the device malfunctions, pulls too hard, and snaps his neck. i think i’ll take the possibility of getting hit by a bullet. good enough for Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Ford, and Reagan; good enough for me.

  • bpjam

    Glad to see innovation wherever we can find it, but…

    I got to agree with the first two posts. Knowing the muscle control that it takes to simply dodge a punch which is essentially telegraphed to you in more than 1/10 of a second I’m not sure what I could do even involuntarily against something occurring in thousands of a second along with calculating a point of impact, angle of trajectory, etc. Sounds like you’d need to have an IBM supercomputer strapped to your pack (which would make that Neo move even harder).

    Oh, and FreeRepublic dittos on your blog!

  • One of the other problems would be the potential hacking of the system, particularly if the sensors used a wireless network. Malicious individuals could add false inputs and effectively make the wearer of the suit a marionette.

  • Anon

    Surely this must be an early April fool’s joke. Can you imagine the speed (and how much power that would require) that the suit would have to move to dodge a bullet? It’d break every bone in your body!

  • DanTheMan

    Read the patent (or at least skim it). It states, in part, that its intended operational objective is to dodge a sniper firing from about 2500′ away giving a projectile flight time of about 4 seconds. All it has to do is shock a part of the body so the wearer would know to hit the deck or run or even walk or whatever. 4 seconds is a long time. Its detection principle sounds to me like the same behind anti-artillery radar except that it doen’t pinpoint the point of origin.

    Now that would be awesome. Imagine a sniper taking a shot at you and your “armor” allows you to dodge the bullet while simultaneously pinpointing the shooter. Whoa.

  • Wally the Waller

    Don’t aim at the body armor.

  • thekit


    Hmm. So it would be something like early warning radar for combat aircraft.

    “Sniper has a lock on you and is firing!”

    hmm. some people might carry smoke grenades too, and be able to pop chaff.

  • David B. Monier-Williams


  • Comasense

    This is obviously intended for VIPs and such under very specific conditions.If a soldier was wearing this armor during a firefight he would appear to be having a seizure with all the projectiles being detected by the suit.Current body armor worn by U.S. soldiers does fine against AK fire as long as you are hit in the body armor.The U.S. government should be working on a lightweight full body armor suit for are soldiers.As we know the soldier is the last to see the benefits of the war budget.

  • Decivre

    It may seem beyond what the human body is capable of, but our body is 40% muscle. We’re incapable of ridiculous movements only because our minds are trained to only move so many muscles simultaneously for an action.

    Think about it, if a bullet was flying at your head, this system could fire off the muscles in your neck to slightly bend it away from the bullet, while simultaneously firing off every muscle in the spine to bend every joint ever so slightly, while simultaneously firing off the muscles in your leg and knees to bend every joint there, causing you to dramatically change position relatively fast simply because most of your body slightly moves. Think your finger flicking, then imagine that occurring over your entire body.

  • gt350

    the point is early warning. thinking outside box–(way over used) but I like the idea that the target has a warning perimeter, that might be just enough to make the target move for a miss? And if it is long range a little movement by a target is alot.

  • Well rather than trying to move a rather slow moving person [IIrc the maxium twitch speed of a muscle is around 5-6 meters per second] why not link your fancy sensors to a hunk of armour plate and some high speed motors which will interpose it between the target and the bullet without throwing you around or breaking anything

  • Scott

    Even if it could move you, such an involuntary massive jerking would put you on the ground and make you an easier target for the second shot…honestly, I think it’s a hoax. The patent form has been erased, it’s just a number.

  • drew

    The suit that is depicted was depicted in the Jacky Chan Movie “The Tuxido”.
    I’m Dismayed to have it compaired to the the timespace bending powers of Neo……errr I mean the over-clocking abilities of Neo.

  • Sean Nack, of course they have my number. They also know that I frequent Sipsey Street Irregulars

    This is still America, though, and we are still in the Awkward stage.

    I didn’t point out the inadequate cover the President had, BTW, I just made a comment that every security-type was thinking when he first laid eyes on it.

    (Steve, apology for the blog pimping)

  • The concept may be far-fetched, but the patent was real. Even though the text has been removed, you can still access the images at the USPTO link.

    BTW: I find it really classy how some sites refuse to give you credit for breaking the story. (I won’t give them the boost of noting their names or URL.) A simple Google search will show that most sites which posted before them reference back to you, including Free Republic, HotAir, and Gizmodo. It was also linked on Stumble It,, and Digg. Admittedly, it is possible that the other sites found it through an independent USPTO search like I did. However, their timing is awfully suspicious seeing as they posted after the story went viral. Perhaps they were just too embarrassed to link to a gun blog. (On the plus side, at least they didn’t hotlink the photos from your server.)

    P.S.: Have you forgotten about the flechette rifle?

  • joanna

    That’s how bush dodged the flying shoes. I knew it