Smart Guns and Biometric Devices

If Smart Guns could be produced so that only certain people can fire them, why would we not want to market them? It sounds like a simple question, but not all simple questions have simple answers.

First, let’s define what we mean when we refer to these devices.

Smart Gun Technology — Use of biometric or some other kind of electronic coded device that identifies authorized users so that the gun can only be fired by its owner.

A reasonable person, at least that is how it is always prefaced, would support these technologies. Yep, only an unreasonable person would be against these technologies being deployed. Yes, that last sentence was pure sarcasm, just in case you didn’t catch it.

On the surface, these technologies seem to make a great deal of sense. However, there are issues. In the case of Smart Guns and other Biometric Devices, I think we can pretty easily see a few issues with them. The issues all revolve around speed, reliability, and transferability.

Biometric devices are not 100% reliable. These technologies can be manipulated/hacked and easily broken. After all, we have never had a watch, phone, health sensor or other technology fail when they are hit against desks, walls, car doors, and so on.

Finger Prints – I think many of us have seen this, first hand. How many times have you put your finger on the iPhone reader, or other reader at work, and it didn’t recognize it right away, and you had to try again? I think that is about everyone. Use your favorite search engine and search for “biometric finger print hack” and you will see that this is a major concern. A finger print can also be faked and allow an unauthorized person to use the gun.

RFIDs – We have seen several cases of RFIDs being hacked in our credit cards. Please feel free to do some research on this topic as I am sure you will find it enlightening. I love this video. I think it is safe to say that not only can RFIDs be hacked, they can also be jammed.

IDENTILOCK – http://getidentilock.com

Recently, a new product has been getting lots of attention. It is a lock that is put on the imagetrigger of the gun, and once the device recognizes the finger print (you can register up to three of them), then the lock will fall off an you can then use the gun. 

If you watch their video, it should jump out at you that when this works, it still takes a second or more for the device to fall off and hit the ground. It is an interesting idea, however, it is fairly expensive, and I just am not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about how well it will work after it hits the ground a couple of times. You will, obviously, want to train with it so you can get a feel for how it works and get used to using it. I can see lots of broken units.

The other issues that should jump at out at you is that, like other finger print readers, it will fail to read the print properly in many cases, and the problems will be even more obvious when the shooter’s fingers are sweaty (because the shooter will never be nervous or face an attack in adverse weather) or cold.

Armatix iP1

This Smart Gun was put out on the market a couple of years ago, and wasn’t adopted for several reasons. One reason would be Politics.

Basically, this gun requires that its RFID-enabled watch is within 10 inches of the gun. The watch has to be paired to the gun, which can be used by anyone until it is paired. Once paired, the gun requires at least 12 seconds before the gun can be fired.

The ability to pick up the gun and use it right away just doesn’t exist. How anyone can call that acceptable is beyond me. “Please Mr. Attacker, go back out the door and count to 12 and then come back in.”

Issues:

  • The watch is ugly, but it also becomes a very clear sign that the user has one of these imageguns.
  • The watch must be worn on the shooting hand, when watches are normally worn on the non-primary wrist to reduce damage to them.
  • It is a .22, which is not considered to be a defensive caliber and would be less likely to stop an attacker.
  • The gun, itself, has been shown to fail multiple times when firing a single magazine.
  • If the firing hand is injured, the shooter can’t use their support hand as it would be more than 10 inches from the watch.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Their version uses sensors that recognize the user’s grip on the gun as being unique. Of course, under stress, we may or may not use the “right” grip, and, in the event of an injury, then gun would be useless as the shooter’s grip would be compromised.

Again, we are putting people at risk of not being able to defend themselves with their defensive gun when it counts the most.

Other Companies

There are several companies out there that are experimenting with Smart Technologies for use with guns. Many of them are using finger prints and voice recognition technologies. Voice technologies have some promise, but then again, there are lots of issues with colds or throat damage caused by an attacker, for example.

Summary

While Smart Technologies for guns sound like a great idea, they fall short. The biggest fear of those that would have to implement them (most likely because some ignorant legislator thinks they are perfect) is that they would hinder the use of the gun when it matters most: When the shooter or their loved ones are at risk of great bodily harm or death.

I really don’t want to depend on a battery, a WiFi signal, Bluetooth, or some other technology to save my life when I am attacked by some evildoer.

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