The Future is Here: Smart Guns

smart gun 2010 internet 0009Not long ago, designer Ernst Mauch unveiled a revolutionary new handgun that grew out of a desire to merge digital technology with firearm safety. Known as the “smart gun” – or Armatix iP1 – this pistol comes with a safety feature designed to ensure that only the guns owner may fire it. Basically, the gun comes with a watch (the iW1) that it is synchronized to, and the weapon will only fire if it is within ten inches of it. So unless you’re wearing the iW1, the weapon will not fire in your hands.

The weapon is in part the result of attempts to find intelligent solutions to gun safety and gun violence. And Mauch’s design is one of several proposed innovations to use digital/smart technology for just such a purpose. Back in January, the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation launched the first of four $1 million challenges aimed at inspiring the kinds of innovation that could help lead to safer guns – and a reduction in the number of tragic deaths and injuries that make the headlines nearly every day.

Armatix-Smart-SystemGiven the recent failures to reach a legislative solution to the ongoing problem of gun-violence, these efforts should come as no surprise. And Mauch, the lead designer of the iP1, claimed in a recent op-ed piece with the Washington Post that the number of gun enthusiasts will rise as the result of its enhanced safety. As a designer who’s patents include the USP family of pistols, the HK416 assault rifle, G36 assault rifle and XM25 grenade machine gun – he is a strong advocate of a market-based solution.

The gun has already sparked a great deal of controversy amongst gun advocates and the National Rifle Association. Apparently, they worry that legislation will be passed so that only smart guns can be sold in gun stores. This is largely in response to a 2002 New Jersey law that stipulated that once the technology was available, that smart guns be sold exclusively in the state. As a result, the NRA has been quite vocal about its opposition to smart guns, despite offers made to repeal the law in exchange for them easing their position.

gun-lock-inlineAs already noted, the iP1 is not the only smart technology being applied to firearms. Sentini, a Detroit-based startup founded by Omer Kiyani, is designing a biometric gun lock called Identilock. Attaching to a gun’s trigger, it unlocks only when the owner applies a fingerprint. As an engineer, a gun owner, a father, and the victim of gun violence (he was shot in the mouth at 16), he too is committed to using digital technology and biometrics to make firearms safer.

An engineer by training, Kiyani spent years working as a software developer building next-generation airbag systems. He worked on calibrating the systems to minimize the chance of injury in the event of an accident, and eventually, he realized he could apply the same basic concepts to guns. As he put it:

The idea of an airbag is so simple. You inflate it and can save a life. I made the connection. I have something in my house that’s very dangerous. There’s got to be a simple way to protect it.

biometric_gunlockInitially, Kiyani considered technology that would require installing electronic locking equipment into the guns themselves, similar to what the iP1 employs. But as an engineer, he understood the inherent complications of designing electronics that could withstand tremendous shock and high temperatures, not to mention the fact it would be incredibly difficult to convince gun manufacturers to work with him on the project.

As a result, he began to work on something that anyone could add to a gun. Ultimately, his creation is different in three ways: it’s optional, it’s detachable, and it’s quick. Unlike biometric gun safes and other locking mechanisms, the Identilock makes it as easy to access a firearm as it is to unlock an iPhone. He pitched hundreds of gun owners a variety of ideas over the course of his research, but it was the biometric lock they inevitably latched onto

gun-lock-inline1The Identilock is also designed using entirely off-the-shelf components that have been proven effective in other industries. The biometric sensor, for example, has been used in other security applications and is approved by the FBI. Cobbling the sensor together from existing technologies was both a cost-saving endeavor and a strategic way to prove the product’s effectiveness more quickly. Currently, the project is still in the prototype phase, but it may prove to be the breakout product that brings biometrics and safety together in recent years.

And last, but certainly not least, there is the biometric option that comes from PositiveID, the makers of the only FDA-approved implantable biochip – which is known as the Verichip. In the past, the company has marketed similar identity-confirming microchips for security and medical purposes. But this past April, the company announced a partnership with Belgium-based gun maker FN Manufacturing to produce smart weapons.

VERICHIPThe technology is being marketed to law enforcement agencies as a means of ensuring that police firearms can never be used by criminals or third parties. The tiny chip would be implanted in a police officer’s hand and would match up with a scanning device inside a handgun. If the officer and gun match, a digital signal unlocks the trigger so it can be fired. Verichip president Keith Bolton said the technology could also improve safety for the military and individual gun owners, and it could be available as early as next year.

Similar developments are under way at other gun manufacturers and research firms. The New Jersey Institute of Technology and Australian gun maker Metal Storm Ltd. are working on a prototype smart gun that would recognize its owner’s individual grip. Donald Sebastian, NJIT vice president for research and development and director of the project, claims that the technology could eventually have an even bigger impact on the illegal gun trade.eri

An employee of Armatix poses for photographers as he presents the ÒSmartGun Concept".Regardless of the solutions being proposed and the progress being made, opposition to these and other measures does not appear to be letting up easily. New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg recently announced that she would introduce a bill to reverse the 2002 New Jersey “smart gun” law if the National Rifle Association would agree not to stand in the way of smart gun technology. The NRA, however, has not relented in its stance.

In addition, biochips and RFID implants have a way of making people nervous. Whenever and wherever they are proposed, accusations of “branding” and “Big Brother” monitoring quickly follow. And above all, any and all attempts to introduce gun safety are met with cries of opposition by those who claim it infringes on citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights. But given the ongoing problem of gun violence, school shootings, and the amount of violence perpetrated with stolen weapon, it is clear that something needs to change.

guns1In 2011 in the United States, roughly 3.6 people per 100,000 were killed with a firearm – which amounts to 32,163 people. In addition, of the 15,953 homicides committed that year, 11,101 were committed using a gun; almost 70% of the total. And not surprisingly, of those 11,101 gun-related homicides, more than half (An6,371) were committed using a handgun. And though exact figures are not exactly available, a general estimates indicates that some 90% percent of murders are committed with stolen guns.

As a result, it is likely just a matter of time before citizens see the value in biometric and smart gun technology. Anything that can ensure that only an owner can use a firearm will go a long way to curbing crime, accidents, and acts of senseless and unmitigated violence.

Sources: cnet.com, theverge.com, (2), wired.com, (2), msnbc.com, gunpolicy.com

Calling All Revengers…

Batman_gothamHello comrades, thank you all for coming. We’ve completed work on our first three missions and it’s time to take stock of what we’ve done. In our first sorties as a crime fighting justice league, we managed to take down a mob boss, a corrupt city counselor, a  notorious pimp, and a drug manufacturing operation that threatened to pollute our city. In the process, we also saved several lives and made the lives of many more better and safer.

Yes, the city sleeps more soundly tonight thanks to the work of hardened men and women who are willing to do what is necessary to put the scum and the filth where they belong. And yet, it seems that despite our recent efforts, the problems of crime, corruption and abuse goes far deeper than anyone thought. We’ve pulled back the surface layer of scum only to find that the infection runs deep.

DoubleMurderIt is as an old friend of mine used to say: “You dig a few feet, you’ll find five bodies. You dig ten feet, you’ll find a hundred.” And so it is time to consider what our next moves will be. And I can think of no better place than to consider what was learned from our first three engagements. During our first outing, we learned that Joey the Stare Keithly or Councilman Harlan. We noted the presence of a telepath at that engagement, and this requires some further investigation.

Second came the rather cryptic message discovered by Judgement while investigating the case of the DA’s office and the business tycoon. After finding both parties dead in the DA’s office, her uncovered a note with three words: Princess” and “the Oracle”. Apparently, these names allude to positions of leadership in the N-Feed community. Naturally, Judgement considers this an internal matter, but our organization has several N-Feed members who are offering their help. We need to look farther into this at some point.

And finally, our interrogation of Billy Bob revealed that his operations are partly controlled by the Bratzsva, the Ukrainian mafia. The drug plant and his brothels are no free of his tyrannical influence, but they remain in effect. What’s more, the girls still need to be liberated and his lieutenants taken down. We don’t want one of them stepping up to fill the void left by Bob’s departure. It’s time to burn this infection out from the source!

And of course, the floor is open for further suggestions. Anybody know of some scumbags or crooked bastards that need to be taken down? Or perhaps there are some innocents who need a helping hand? Or, just a suggestion, a PR mission to let the public know exactly who we are and what we do? It aint all about hurting people, after all. Oh, and always remember to be careful out there!

Revenger Mission #1 Update!

Welcome back Revengers, Captain Smackdown here! We’ve had a crucial update from our agents in the field, who at this moment are in crisis dealing with our very first mission. Based on Atrum Auditors report, what began as a simple surveillance mission escalated when the target – mobster Joe “The Stare” Kiethly – showed up with some unusual muscle. Enhance ex-military men who were given telekinetic powers!

On top of that, reports from the field emphasized that there was another there, a mind that was searching and making contact with Atrum Auditor, Erotica Girl and Styka. A telepathic presence in the region is most disturbing. Either Kiethly’s men are more than they appear, or there’s someone else watching the show. In either case, your Captain is proceeding to the scene with reinforcements! Here’s how it went down…

*                     *                    *

The GT’s engine reached a crescendo of noise. From the passenger seat, Panacea looked anxiously at the Captain.

Strange, he thought. Weren’t immortals the ones who had the least to fear from death? And yet, she looked more nervous than he felt.

They reached their turn and the Captain spun the wheel, bringing them into a slight slide that almost put them up against the nearby brick wall. Panacea grunted as they took the corner and decided to say something as soon as they straightened out again.

“Is there a game plan?” she asked. “I mean, other than to go charging in?”

“Of course there is,” Smackdown replied. “I just haven’t thought of it yet.”

“Oh…” she said. “Lovely.”

Another hard turn. The smell of the docks began to pour in through their open windows. Tar, brine, and the undeniable smell of rot and decay. They were on a long stretch now that passed lengthwise between two red brick warehouses. Smackdown used the opportunity to fetch his weapon from the backseat, which had been resting on the floor until this point.

“Do me a favor…?” he said to Panacea and handed it to her. “Grab that drum on the backseat and load it for me.”

Panacea was momentarily stunned by the appearance of the weapon. The membership agreement stipulated that it lethal force was out of bounds, but the weapon she was now holding seemed to contradict that piece of fine print. Still, she did as she was told and fished around on the backseat until the spherical magazine presented itself. Grabbing it and bringing it forward, she stared at the two pieces and asked for help.

“Um, how am I…?”

“Just slap the drum into the bottom and pull that lever on the side,” said the Captain. Panacea obliged, and then held it up in her hand. Heavy, by normal standards, and grissly looking. She looked sideways at Smackdown. He noticed and flashed a defensive frown.

“Rubber bullets… I swear!”

“Alright…” she said warily, then placed it in the backseat.

The engine revved harder. Smackdown looked ahead and yelled a word of warning. “Bit of a bump up ahead. Hang on!”

She looked just in time to see the pile of lobster traps and loading crates. Her yell came too late to stop him. They hit it with a hard thud and picked up some air. The landing was even harder. They came to skidding halt on the other side.

“Sorry. GPS didn’t mention that obstruction.”

Panacea looked at the dashboard. Did this vehicle even have a GPS, or was that some kind of dry witticism on the Captains part? Either way, she wasn’t any happier about it.

Smackdown placed his finger to his earpiece.

“Atrum? Can you hear me?”

Auditor voice came in in low, hushed whispers. “Read you, Captain. What’s your position?”

“We’re less than a minute away. Has anything changed on the scene?”

“Well, we still haven’t found the source of the psychic presence. But it doesn’t seem to be coming from our guests or their hired muscle. Keithly’s goons are holding their spots and letting the him and Councilman talk.”

Smackdown nodded. That sounded like good news, but it pointed towards something more frightening. He removed his finger from his ear and began to look precariously out his side window.

“What’s wrong?” Panacea asked.

“I think we got more company than we think,” he replied. He placed his finger back to his ear. “Hold your position. We’ll be coming in hot. As soon as we arrive on scene, I figure we’ll have a second or two before those goons try to turn their powers on us. Then I want you and the girls to start jamming them, and let’s pray they don’t have psychic defenses we don’t know about.”

“You got it,” Auditor replied.

“So… we got a plan?” Panacea asked.

“Yeah…” Smackdown looked at her outfit. “You’re CV said you could fly, that still true?”

“Yes,” she said irately. Superpowers didn’t exactly have an expiry date.

“Good. Cuz when we get to the scene, I want you to jump out that door and get in the air. I’ll provide covering fire for you. Our friends on scene should take care of the rest. Okay?”

“Okay!”

“Good. Now hand me that gun.”

She grabbed it and passed it to him, warily as always. He noticed the way she was looking at it, like she had a serious issue with firearms. He repeated his earlier assurance.

“I swear!”

*                    *                    *

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to the Revengers first mission!