According to LeVine, there are no know long-term side effects and the weapon doesn't cause cancer. She also said that due to the instinctive reaction to close one's eyes and turn away from the heat the beam generates, it has shown no negative effect on a target's eyesight.
According to experts, the device is the darling of the non-lethal weapons program, which is working on weapons that sound more like they come out of the world of science fiction than military science.
"The world of less lethal weapons sometimes feels like you're stepping into the 'Hall of Justice,'" said Shachtman. "There are slippery foams, hardening foams, there's wireless Tasers where the electrical energy just leaps out at you, there are vortex rings of compressed air."
Though Shachtman said the military's non-lethal weapons research only accounts for a tiny portion of the military research budget as a whole, he said the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review called for doubling the budget for non-lethal research. He said he believes this is a sign of increased confidence in -- and the necessity for -- the technologies being developed.
LeVine said that testing the ADS on more than 600 volunteers over the last 12 years showed that it makes people run away, leading to David Hambling nicknaming it the "Goodbye Gun."
"When you feel that millimeter wave energy, you get a heating sensation, a clear distinct sensation that you know somebody's telling you to stop your actions and get out of the area," said LeVine.
But what if you're stuck in a crowd? Trapped on the ground or simply unable to get out of the weapon's path?
LeVine said that's not possible due to the operator's training and the camera used to target the device. She said the operator will see what is happening.
But LeVine also said that the ADS is not meant to replace all of the other lethal and non-lethal weaponry and options at soldiers' disposal.
"They're going to make a choice on how to deal with the situation. And if they were to engage and employ the Active Denial System, and they're not getting the desired response, then they may use other force options," LeVine said. "We're not saying this is the end-all weapon and will solve all problems. It's just another tool for our troops."
Those troops will have to wait until at least next year for the ADS. It wraps up the final phase of testing -- the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration -- with the 820th Security Forces Group at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia in 2007.