Armatix smart-gun tech reignites gun fight, with retailers in the middle

Gun groups are OK with 'voluntary use' of smart guns, but they'll fight mandates

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NJIT's DGR technology uses 32 sensors in the gun's grip, which, like voice-recognition technology, can be trained to determine a particular person's grip in tenths of a second and then discriminate between authorized and unauthorized users. The technology actually works as a user begins applying pressure to a gun's trigger.

The gun also is capable of storing multiple user profiles, so that more than one person can use a weapon.

Donald Sebastian, of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, explains the school's Dynamic Grip Recognition smart gun technology.

NJIT's DGR technology was first tested in a Beretta 9mm pistol, but the micro processing technology in that weapon was outdated, as was the 9-volt smoke detector-style battery. NJIT is now developing the technology using a Sig Sauer P228 9mm pistol with the latest microprocessors and micro batteries. The technology disengages the gun's hammer.

The school plans to have six prototypes available in September, ready for manufacturers to test. "In six months to a year after that, we hope to have limited deployments with the military, the TSA and police forces," Sebastian said.

There are also aftermarket smart gun accessories that can be added to specific model weapons. For example, Kodiak Industry's Intelligun, for example, is an after-market accessory that replaces the pistol grip and the mainspring of an M1911-style .45 caliber pistol.

The smart gun technology comes in a fingerprint reader on the pistol grip, which determines whether the pistol's native safety mechanism should be unlocked. If the shooter's fingerprint is recognized upon gripping the pistol, three LED lights turn green and the gun is enabled. If not, the lights turn red and the safety mechanism remains activated. The $399 Intelligun grips also come with a safety override key, allowing a user to shut the system off.

A demonstration of how the Intelligun grip accessory works.

NJIT's DGR technology has caught the eye of the US Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, which is helping fund the work on the technology.

NJIT also is among a large group of innovators who hope to receive funding from a non-profit initiative. The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, led by entrepreneur and gun-safety advocate Ron Conway, has offered $1 million in prize money, soliciting proposals for designs.

The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation has received more than 200 applications from innovators representing 30 countries and ranging in age from 13 to 81 years old, according to Margot Hirsch, president of the foundation.

"We believe that the majority of gun owners want to exercise their individual preferences when purchasing firearms and new accessories and features," Hirsch wrote in an email reply to Computerworld. "Admittedly, the technology has a way to go in terms of testing and refinement, but we're hopeful that without the fear of government mandates, technological innovation can begin to flourish and scale, and consumers who want to make safety a priority will eventually be able to find the products they want on the shelves."

The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation offers money toward three levels of development: companies with an idea in its infancy, those with a technology but no prototype and companies with prototypes. The competition closed March 31 and submissions are currently being reviewed.

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