Everyone knows that the first Enterprise shipped with ablative plating and any defence involved charging the plating and real shielding did not come until much later.
However Boeing’s patent number 8,981,261 describes a force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage.could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets.
At the moment it will not protect from direct hits from a rifle, let alone a Klingon Bird of Prey.
The system can sense when a shock wave generating explosion occurs near a target. An arc generator then determines the small area where protection is needed from the shock waves.
It then springs into action by by emitting laser pulses that ionise the air, providing a laser-induced plasma field of protection from the shock waves.
“Explosive devices are being used increasingly in asymmetric warfare to cause damage and destruction to equipment and loss of life. The majority of the damage caused by explosive devices results from shrapnel and shock waves,” the patent says.
While Boeing may been granted the patent, it’s unclear how long it will be before the company deploys the real-life force fields.