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

Lucas Mearian | May 21, 2014
Gun groups are OK with 'voluntary use' of smart guns, but they'll fight mandates

NJIT's Dynamic Grip Recognition on a Beretta 92F 9mm handgun (Image: NJIT)

The technology
While it's the first to offer integrated smart-gun technology to consumers, Armatix is not alone in its efforts. Smart gun technology comes in RFID chips, such as Armatix's wristwatch, as well as biometrics systems that can read fingerprints or even sense a person's unique grip.

NJIT is a leading, and early, developer of smart gun technology. For more than a dozen years, it has been testing a Dynamic Grip Recognition (DGR) technology that Sebastian claims is 99% effective in preventing unauthorized use of a gun. Unlike Armatix's technology, NJIT's is aimed squarely at protecting children.

"I applaud anyone who is moving electronics into the weapon, but I'm not sure RFID technology solves the issue of child-safe guns," Sebastian said.

The problem is that the digital token required for an RFID enabled gun is stored separate from the weapon. The gun owner has to protect the weapon and the device with the RFID chip, such as a watch or ring.

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NJIT's DGR technology was first tested in a Beretta 9mm pistol, but the micro processing technology in that weapon was outdated, as was the 9-volt smoke detector-style battery.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.

 

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