Sunday, September 14, 2014

Winners of High-profile Smart Gun Design Challenge are Afraid to Come Out Publicly


The Verge

Design challenges are common in Silicon Valley. Tackling heated political issues is not.
Some recipients of a high-profile contest for "smart gun" designs are refusing to allow themselves to be announced publicly, The Verge has learned, for fear of a backlash from gun rights activists.

A smart gun is a computer-enhanced weapon that authenticates users before allowing them to shoot. Smart guns may rely on biometric data such as a fingerprint, voice print, or the unique way the user grips the gun. They can also require a password or the proximity of another device, such as a wristband.

Proponents say implementing this technology will decrease gun violence, especially of the type that involves children getting ahold of their parents' guns.

The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, a Silicon Valley-based organization formed in 2013 in order to fund smart gun research, announced its $1 million competition back in January. "We need the iPhone of guns," Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, who is backing the challenge, said at the time.


  1. I am not too familiar with Smart Gun technology. Is it like the fingerprint scanner for a smart phone? Would be kind of cool if a gun could be biochemically connected to your body. As a legal gun owner, I would like to know that my firearm could not be used by other people.

    1. Spoken like a reasonable gun owner, unlike the fringe lunatics who comment around here.

  2. Replies
    1. Spoken like a true representative of the lunatic fringe.

    2. Nope--but the lunatics need not complain of any lack of representation. They have you.

  3. "17-year-old Kai Kloepfer’s invention might’ve just solved one of America’s biggest issues—accidental gun deaths.
    The teen has invented a device that uses fingerprint sensors to prohibit anyone but certified users from firing the weapon. The main focus of the device is to prevent children and teens from injuring or killing themselves after accidentally stumbling upon firearms."

    The grant will help him with the next phase of development, namely integrating the design into an actual firearm, which will gift him with more engineering challenges. With recoil, high temperatures, and solvents common in the world of firearms, it can be a difficult life for any electronics.
    One interesting thing mentioned is this,

    "The sensor can be programmed with multiple fingerprints, so it would work for police forces or military use, in addition to protecting small children or other users from accessing household guns."

    Somewhat ironically, the one state that has passed a law mandating the sale of these firearms specifically exempted law enforcement and the military from having to obey this law. Its also interesting in that his design tries to minimize the possibility of hacking,

    "According to him, all user data is kept right on the gun and nothing is uploaded anywhere else so it would be pretty hard to hack. This potentially makes it ideal for military use as well."

    "Some of the $50,000 has already been used to purchase a 3D printer to create new parts for his prototype. Kloepfer, who will graduate from Fairview High School this year, plans to use the rest of it toward the integration of a fingerprint scanner."

    Fortunately, he doesn't live in Philadelphia where there's a new ordinance prohibiting its residents from manufacturing gun parts with a 3-d printer.
    I also wonder if he might run across some patent issues since there are already some items on the market,

    "Intelligun completely locks your gun, yet allows it to be quickly unlocked ony by you or your authorized users. No keys, rings, watches or codes are needed. Simply grip your gun normally and Intelligun unlocks quickly and reliably for you or others you have authorized. As soon as you let go, it automatically relocks, rendering your firearm inoperable once again.
    Intelligun is an accessory designed for 1911 model firearms."

    I commend his research in developing his design and wish him luck. The biggest hurdle will come though through government intervention. Someone will again bring up some suggestion for mandating the use of this technology instead of letting the market have its say.
    One way to get around this would be to mandate biometric technology being implemented in law enforcement and the military once it becomes acceptably reliable. Once it has earned some credibility in that area, gun owners will gladly spend their own money gladly to have something the police and military use. Or they can stick with the old stuff if that is their choice.
    Keep in mind that some gun control groups aren't necessarily on board with biometric technology. I have my own reservations based solely on safety issues.

  4. That thing is a fucking piece of shit that would shatter after a few rounds. Fuck that shit, you fucking dumb fucks. Let me guess, he's trying to lobby for laws to mandate it, because no one with a fucking brain would ever buy it.

    1. Spoken like a Harvard genius, who's completely secure in his opinions. Only kidding.

    2. This is a step backwards for gun reliability and safety. Even Josh Sugarman says it's retarded.


  5. You would think pro gun people would be the first to encourage this kind of technology, but they not only try to prevent this kind of technology, they describe it as some kind of anti freedom, dangerous step for society, yet, they claim to be the guardians of freedom. Laughable.

    1. "but they not only try to prevent this kind of technology, they describe it as some kind of anti freedom, dangerous step for society, yet, they claim to be the guardians of freedom."

      One has but to look to recent events to see that those who are leery of trusting the government to do the "right thing" don't have a reason to be concerned.
      Notice that Mr. Kloepfer specifically mentions the difficulty in hacking his design to be a good thing. Something that the Armitix design would have issues with due to its use of RF technology.

  6. If it's so great why don't police departments use it? Oh yeah, because it doesn't work.

    1. They don't use them now because they're not ready yet. Eventually everyone will use them, despite the gun fanatics' desperate attempts to thwart progress.

    2. "They don't use them now because they're not ready yet."

      That was exactly the point in protests against the Armitix design and New Jersey's poorly thought out law. Mandating citizen use of a technology that is not only not reliable enough to bet your life on, but also has serious potential security flaws.

    3. "Eventually everyone will use them, despite the gun fanatics' desperate attempts to thwart progress."

      It appears that even the Democrats aren't ready for it.

      "On Sept. 9, nine-term Representative John Tierney lost his primary election, a blow that has not been dealt to an incumbent Congressman from Massachusetts in 22 years. Joining Tierney in the losers’ circle was Warren Tolman, who lost his Democratic bid for attorney general to Maura Healy."

      "Besides their recent primary losses, what other striking similarity exists between these two outliers? Both candidates were staunch supporters of a mandate for so-called “smart gun” technology. The National Shooting Sports Foundation had no objection to the continued development of authorized user recognition technology but believes that law-abiding gun owners should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to purchase firearms that include it."

      "Congressman Tierney has been a consistent proponent of this legislation, including sponsoring a bill in 2013 that would require all guns to have this technology. The legislation has not progressed in the House of Representatives since it was introduced and likely will not be passed since its primary supporter has been unseated."

      "Tolman also made the smart gun mandate a pillar of his platform, going so far as to release an ad where he pledges to take on the National Rifle Association and mandate the technology. He planned to leverage existing laws in Massachusetts that would allow him as Attorney General to implement the mandate without having to pass legislation.
      Undoubtedly, there are many factors that contributed to these two candidates’ losses. However, it is certainly a coincidence that both were strong supporters of mandating that technology and both lost their elections."