4 days, 6 hours ago
This is rich.
When Kai Kloepfer points his .40 caliber handgun, it fires like any other weapon. But when someone else gives it a try, it doesn’t work. It’s the first firearm with same built-in security as many smartphones.
If the gun is picked up by an authorized user, a sensor recognizes the fingerprint and it will fire.
Guns that only work for their owners used to be the stuff of movies, like James Bond’s gun in “Skyfall,” but Kloepfer thinks he has the technology to make them a reality, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.
“I think this could be huge. I think it could really be the future of firearms,” Kloepfer said.
He’s the founder of BioFire, a start-up still headquartered in his parent’s house in Boulder, Colorado. Now a freshman at MIT, Kloepfer started work on his gun as part of a science project when he was 15 years old.
“There’d be days when I’d sit down … I’d look up 14 hours later. I hadn’t moved from the spot. I hadn’t thought about anything else,” Kloepfer said.
He realized he couldn’t stop mass shootings, but he thought he could still save lives.
After all, in one year alone, nearly 600 people died in firearm accidents. There were thousands more suicides, many committed with guns that do not belong to the victim.
“Why did it take four and a half years to put a fingerprint reader on the side of a gun?” Dokoupil asked him.
“Well, it’s not as simple of a process as you might imagine,” Kloepfer said. “It’s also not something anybody has ever done before.”
Kloepfer’s weapon doesn’t only lock like a smart phone – it charges like one.
The invention has won him some deep-pocketed allies.
“Kai is the Mark Zuckerberg of guns,” Ron Conway said.
Conway was an early investor in Google and Facebook, and now he’s a putting his money behind Kloepfer’s smart gun.
“What Kai has done is used all of the latest technology available us to innovate a truly authenticated gun. You couldn’t do this five years ago,” Conway said.
But a push for similar guns misfired memorably in the late 1990s. A Colt prototype failed in a major demonstration, and Smith & Wesson dropped its smart gun program after resulting boycotts nearly bankrupted the company.
“What has changed from then until now to make it possible to make a smart gun like the one you’re working on?” Dokoupil asked.
“I would argue pretty much everything,” Kloepfer said.
Well, almost everything.
“Good intentions don’t necessarily make good inventions,” said Stephen Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They’re the main trade group for companies that make and sell guns.
Sanetti expressed concern about the reliability of any firearm that depends on battery power.
“The firearm has to work. And a firearm is not the same as a cell phone,” Sanetti said. “The consequences of a cell phone not working are inconvenience. The consequences of a firearm not working could be someone’s life.”
Kloepfer said his gun is “relatively reliable.”
How many of you want a gun, a more expensive gun I might add, that is “relatively reliable?”
So young engineer (I’m so sorry, I’m an engineer and I hate that you’re getting ready to throw your career away on something like this, but apparently there is no one around who can counsel you any better). Here is what you need to do.
… let’s talk yet again about smart gun technology. I am a registered professional engineer, and I spend all day analyzing things and performing calculations. Let’s not speak in broad generalities and murky platitudes (such as “good enough”). That doesn’t work with me. By education, training and experience, I reject such things out of hand. Perform a fault tree analysis of smart guns. Use highly respected guidance like the NRC fault tree handbook.
Assess the reliability of one of my semi-automatic handguns as the first state point, and then add smart gun technology to it, and assess it again. Compare the state points. Then do that again with a revolver. Be honest. Assign a failure probability of greater than zero (0) to the smart technology, because you know that each additional electronic and mechanical component has a failure probability of greater than zero.
Get a PE to seal the work to demonstrate thorough and independent review. If you can prove that so-called “smart guns” are as reliable as my guns, I’ll pour ketchup on my hard hat, eat it, and post video for everyone to see. If you lose, you buy me the gun of my choice. No one will take the challenge because you will lose that challenge. I’ll win. Case closed. End of discussion.
Unless you can design a gun that has a delta of precisely zero (0) greater failure probability, is as light, aesthetically pleasing, no more weighty or roomy, and just a cheap as classic guns, there is no market for your toy.
Sorry. And actually, there wouldn’t be any market anyway even if it met all of those stipulations because the government or a perpetrator (perhaps I’m being redundant) might be able to use the electronic features to turn the gun off when they wanted to.
But I don’t want to be too negative on this, because I want to see companies go bankrupt funding the research. So carry on.