Laser pointers are often used in educational and business presentations and visual demonstrations as an eye-catching pointing device. Red laser pointers can be used in almost any indoor or low-light situation where pointing out details by hand may be inconvenient, such as in construction work or interior decorating. Green laser pointers can be used for similar purposes as well as outdoors in daylight or for longer distances.
Laser pointers are used in a wide range of applications. Green laser pointers can also be used for amateur astronomy. On a moonless night, a green laser pointer beam can often be clearly seen, allowing someone to accurately point out individual stars to others nearby. Also, these green laser pointers are commonly used by astronomers worldwide at star parties or for conducting lectures in astronomy. Astronomy laser pointers are also commonly mounted on telescopes in order to align the telescope to a specific star or location. Laser alignment is much easier than aligning through using the eyepiece.
Industrial and research use
Laser pointers are used in industry. For instance, construction companies may use high quality laser pointers to enhance the accuracy of showing specific distances, while working on large-scale projects. They proved to be useful in this type of business because of their accuracy, which made them significant time-savers. What is essentially a laser pointer may be built into an infrared thermometer to identify where it is pointing, or be part of a laser level or other apparatus.
They may also be helpful in scientific research in fields such as photonics, chemistry, physics, and medicine.
Leisure and entertainment
Entertainment is one of the other applications that have been found for lasers. The most common use of lasers in entertainment can be seen in special effects used in laser shows. Clubs, parties and outdoor concerts all use high-power lasers, with safety precautions, as a spectacle. Laser shows are often extravagant, using lenses, mirrors andsmoke.
However, laser pointers have few applications beyond actual pointing in the wider entertainment industry, and many venues ban entry to those in possession of pointers as a potential hazard. Very occasionally laser gloves, which are sometimes mistaken for pointers, are seen being worn by professional dancers on stage at shows. Unlike pointers, these usually produce low-power highly divergent beams to ensure eye safety. On one or two occasions pointers have been used as props by magicians during magic shows.
As an example of the potential dangers of laser pointers brought in by audience members, at the Tomorrow Land Festival in Belgium in 2009, laser pointers brought in by members of the audience of 200 mW or greater were found to be the cause of eye damage suffered by several other members of the audience according to reports about the incident filed on the ILDA (International Laser Display Association's) Web site:. The report says that the incident was investigated by several independent authorities, including the Belgium police, and that those authorities concluded that pointers brought in by the audience were the cause of the injuries.
Laser pointers can be used in hiking or outdoor activities. Higher-powered laser pointers are bright enough to scare away large wild animals which makes them useful for hiking and camping. In these circumstances a laser pointer can also serve as a handy survival tool, as it can be used as a rescue signal in emergencies which is visible to aircraft and other parties, during both day and night conditions, at extreme distances. For example, during the night in August 2010 two men and a boy were rescued from marshland after their red laser pen was spotted by rescue teams.
Housecats are attracted to the motion of a dot produced by a laser pointer, and cheap low-powered laser pointers are often sold and used as cat toys.
Some militaries use lasers to mark targets at night for aircraft. This is done to ensure that "friendly" and "enemy" targets are not mistaken. A friendly target may wear an IR emitting device that is only visible to those utilizing night vision (such as pilots.) To pinpoint the exact location of an enemy combatant, they would simply illuminate the target with a laser beam detectable by the attacking aircraft. This can be one of the most accurate ways of marking targets.