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New Smart Gun Company Hopes To Begin Production This Summer 632

Posted by samzenpus
from the smarter-shooting dept.
Lucas123 writes Safe Gun Technology (SGTi) is hoping it can begin production on its version of a smart gun within the next two months. The Columbus, Ga.-based company uses relatively simple fingerprint recognition through a flat, infrared reader positioned on the weapon's grip. The biometrics reader enables three other physical mechanisms that control the trigger, the firing pin and the gun hammer. The controller chip can save from 15,000 to 20,000 fingerprints. If a large military unit wanted to program thousands of finger prints into a single weapon, it would be possible. A single gun owner could also temporarily program a friend or family member's print into the gun to go target shooting and then remove it upon returning home."
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New Smart Gun Company Hopes To Begin Production This Summer

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  • by jsrjsr (658966) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:30PM (#43582337)
    When I pull the trigger, I want the gun to fire. I doubt this will be reliable enough to depend upon.
    • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aoMONETl.com minus painter> on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:36PM (#43582413) Journal

      Precisely. If there is any chance at all that my gun will simply refuse to fire when I pull the trigger, I don't want anything to do with it.

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:58PM (#43583659)
        I'm guessing you mean any increased chance, since we live in the real world where everything always has a non-zero chance of not working as advertised. How much of an increased chance do these things have of failing? I'd be interested to see real data rather than conjecture. If this thing fails one out of every, I dunno, one thousand trigger pulls, that could be more reliable than your average Saturday night special.

        I think you'd also want to compare, if possible, the chances of you needing to shoot someone with the chances of someone shooting you with your own gun, before concluding you're worse off with this. Whether or not you're safer with a gun in the home is controversial and heavily written about, the risks of being shot by your gun vs the likelihood of you shooting a would-be-attacker. I don't have an opinion on the subject as I'm not prepared to wade into the literature, but it seems like this tech would avoid the chance of the former while still giving you the chance at the latter. That could be a net benefit even given the chance of the gun refusing to fire when you needed it.

        Either way, these are just hypotheses, we'd need hard data. I know its fun to not use data when discussing public policy and especially gun control, I certainly don't have any.
        • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday April 29, 2013 @06:19PM (#43585543)

          Tale of two guns I own, both purchased with the goal of being conceal carry pieces: Walther PPS #1 - 2300 rounds fired. Error: failure to eject last round properly: 1. No other jams and I've fed good ammo and cheap ammo through it. Had so much success a year ago I bought another as a spare. 1400 rounds through it, no failures to fire or eject. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I'll trust my life with either of those weapons. I am confident that if/when I need them to go boom they will.

          Also last year I bought a Ruger SR40c because I wanted something in .40S&W. Excellent sights, great trigger, very accurate and manageable recoil for me. But it had problems with double feeds, failure to eject, and light strikes. Put 600 rounds through it to "break it in" and still had problems through the 1000 round mark. Sent the gun back to Ruger and they replaced some parts and replaced the barrel. 500 rounds through the gun since I've got it back and other than it still hates winchester ammo (hard primer) seems to be okay if I'm shooting Hornaday Critical Duty or Defense ammo. I still refuse to carry it. It will probably take another 1000 rounds before I will even consider it again.

        • by EuclideanSilence (1968630) on Monday April 29, 2013 @07:42PM (#43586205)

          I'm guessing you mean any increased chance, since we live in the real world where everything always has a non-zero chance of not working as advertised. How much of an increased chance do these things have of failing? I'd be interested to see real data rather than conjecture. If this thing fails one out of every, I dunno, one thousand trigger pulls, that could be more reliable than your average Saturday night special.

           

          I agree that actual statistics would be better, but this is a different type of failure. If a pistol fails to fire then you just pull the trigger again; you might have to cycle a round. If a fingerprint gun fails to fire, then it will probably fail to fire in all subsequent attempts.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kwiqsilver (585008)

          Whether or not you're safer with a gun in the home is controversial and heavily written about, the risks of being shot by your gun vs the likelihood of you shooting a would-be-attacker. I don't have an opinion on the subject as I'm not prepared to wade into the literature, but it seems like this tech would avoid the chance of the former while still giving you the chance at the latter.

          I'm not disagreeing with your post, quite the opposite. I just want to point out that the Kellerman study (which you allude to) that claimed a gun was 2.7 times more likely to be used against a resident of the house than against a non resident was horribly flawed.

          The claim of the paper was that people who have a firearm in the home are more likely to die from their own guns. Don Kates proved that most of the victims in the study were shot by guns from outside the home, which makes the presence of the hom

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:39PM (#43582475)

      "When I pull the trigger, I want the gun to fire. I doubt this will be reliable enough to depend upon."

      More to the point: if you want it to be reliable, then the fingerprint technology has to be loose enough to be UNreliable. We already know this. With today's technology, if you want to allow access with fingerprints reliably, you have to make your parameters loose enough that false positives slip in too easily.

      Which means that in order to be near 100% reliable for an "authorized" shooter, this thing provably can't do what it's intended to do: reliably block the UNauthorized.

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:46PM (#43582559)
        Qualifiers:

        When I say "near 100% reliable", I'm not joking. 99.9% just isn't good enough for something I'd trust my life to. But if it approached 99.99%, then it's getting near the reliability of the gun itself, and may be good enough. That's approximately 1 error in 1000 rounds. Even that is pushing what I view as acceptable limits.

        And even just given that it's battery-powered, it probably will never reach that goal in the foreseeable future.

        As for its intended purpose (blocking unauthorized users), I have no doubt that it would work some of the time. But how often, given that it has to be that accurate for the authorized? I'm not confident that it would be that good at its job. It's a very difficult balancing act, and I would need a lot of convincing.
      • False negative are the problem. False positive are OK if they are low enough. Effectively even if there is a 20% false positive rate, that means 80% of the time somebody not you trying to use your gun will fail. Better than the current 0% failure 100% sucess today. Bad guys would find the gun less interresting to steal, if they can't get their hand on the reprogramming tech or it is too expansive (and it would still be easier to steal a classical one not needing reprogramming).
      • by cusco (717999)
        I work with biometric readers in access control systems, and the only thing less reliable than fingerprint readers are hand scanners. If the thing is calibrated to work correctly then when your hand is cold, dirty, sweaty, or swelled up for some reason (poison ivy, injury, gardening, whatever) the reader will deny you access. I really dislike bio-readers, they're a pain in the ass to work with for very little gain.

        More reasonable (if they really want to insist on this foolishness) would be an RFID or p
    • by tutufan (2857787) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:41PM (#43582499)

      Me neither. If a kid finds that gun on the piano, they should pay the price...

    • by DJ Jones (997846) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:41PM (#43582507) Homepage

      "We've dedicated well over 10 years to come up with this solution. We have a lot of people in this company who've put a lot of blood sweat and tears into it and never gotten a penny out of it. If we were in it for the money, we would have been out of it a long time ago. "Our motto is ... if we save the life of one child, it's a miracle to that child and everyone that child touches."

      If they were true to their motto they should have dropped the project and donated their funding to a children's hospital 10 years ago.

      • Agreed, that's the dumbest motto I've ever seen, from a weapons company. They must think people are idiots if they think anybody will buy that bleeding heart line of bullshit.

      • "Our motto is ... if we save the life of one child, it's a miracle to that child and everyone that child touches."

        If they were true to their motto they should have dropped the project and donated their funding to a children's hospital 10 years ago.

        To be fair, prevention is better than treatment in any medical situation.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      At least BSODs will be more meaningful in real life.
    • Sure it'll be reliable. Just make sure to lift the gun owner's fingerprints and transfer to a gummy bear before trying to shoot this weapon.

      I doubt that the fingerprint reader will be able to recognize gummy fingerprints...

  • How about gloves? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:30PM (#43582339)

    People often wear gloves when shooting pistols. And in combat situations, fingers may get dirty, or even partially damaged or burnt. This strikes me as a REALLY bad idea. Lives will be lost to this.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      People often wear gloves when shooting pistols. And in combat situations, fingers may get dirty, or even partially damaged or burnt. This strikes me as a REALLY bad idea. Lives will be lost to this.

      colt&etc have been down this road for over a decade now, with wearable tags and other means. 100% accuracy is what they're worried about.

      technically it's a good idea if you're napping with the gun in a bad neighborhood and someone else might take it and use it against you. but that's not a good idea in the first place. it's not a bad idea as such, for a target shooting gun it's a great idea actually, so your wife doesn't shoot you in a moment of anger. it's just not a good idea to have in a versatile we

    • Probably not.

      Unless a person is willing to become a Darwin Contestant, they won't use it. I sure as hell won't. Fingerprint biometrics are barely reliable in a lab situation. I can't imagine anyone putting up for this sort of crap going out to do some work. It's just more feel-good bullshit from someone who's never pulled the trigger for real.

    • by Shotgun (30919)

      I think the real issue in the combat situation is that the WRONG lives will be lost. You generally want some lives to be lost in a combat situation.

      • by PoolOfThought (1492445) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:49PM (#43583539)
        I agree with what I think you meant to say. But the words you chose were just too wrong (all by themselves) to leave there...

        You generally want some lives to be lost in a combat situation.

        No... you want to get your way. You don't WANT some lives to be lost.

        Even for a home invasion situation you don't WANT a life to be lost. You WANT that creep OUT and you will do whatever it takes INCLUDING ending a life, but killing is not what you WANT to do. In an ideal situation you could just spot the invader and say "go away" and they'd turn and leave. But since that's highly unlikely and since there's a good chance there will be a struggle then the safest bet for you is to end the conflict as immediately as possible and in such a way that minimizes your own chances of being harmed. Therefore, you shoot 'em with an intent to kill (so they don't shoot back).

        For general political WARS, your statement still goes too far. In a combat situation the goal is almost never "to end lives". The goal is to end a dispute (in neutralize the opponent) and to get your way. Lives being taken is more of a by product of the process than the goal itself. Total annihilation / beating them to nothing is often the simplest route to achieving the end of the war, but make no mistake. It's not that you WANT lives to be lost or resources to be destroyed... you just want break your opponent and get your way.

        Then there's the extremist viewpoint. It's the viewpoint that anyone who disagrees must be the devil and should be killed. That attitude certainly breeds a type of combat, but it's not combat in general. And really, the defender (the "not extreme party") still only wants to stay alive through the combat... they're not necessarily interested in killing.

    • by j-stroy (640921) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:47PM (#43582579)
      I am sure that duct taping an authorized finger to the scan pad would hack the system. The rest of the authorized individual is redundant.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:31PM (#43582351) Journal
    I'd prefer a fool-proof gun over a smart gun.
    • by Shotgun (30919)

      Those that would deign to create a fool-proof $anything, underestimate the creativity and ingenuity of fools.

  • I cannot imagine what a nightmare it will be to manage weapons access thru fingerprints into a large military unit.
    • I cannot imagine what a nightmare it will be to manage weapons access thru fingerprints into a large military unit.

      Slashdot has hit a new low, you did not even bother reading the summary. I quote:

      "The controller chip can save from 15,000 to 20,000 fingerprints. If a large military unit wanted to program thousands of finger prints into a single weapon, it would be possible."

      Even so, would you really want to have each gun accessible by every person in the unit? What if there was a friendly fire incident? Wouldn't you want to know that the only person capable of firing a weapon was the person it was allocated to? If it could only be fired by one person then an investigation into a friendly fire or non-combatant death could be investigated rather quickly.

      • by Pr0xY (526811)

        Even so, would you really want to have each gun accessible by every person in the unit? What if there was a friendly fire incident? Wouldn't you want to know that the only person capable of firing a weapon was the person it was allocated to? If it could only be fired by one person then an investigation into a friendly fire or non-combatant death could be investigated rather quickly.

        That's a good point, but there is a fairly simple solution. You could have the gun record which finger print was approved when it was fired. if storage is a concern, then you could have it only store the newest 1000 rounds or something to that effect.

        That way, you can approve the gun for many finger prints, but still know which individual fired recently if there is an incident which requires investigation.

        I suppose the major caveat with that, is that you need to store the information properly encrypted to a

      • From my experience, unless you are in a career field that requires you to have a weapon every single day, you may never get the same weapon twice from the armory, even if you are being armed multiple days in a row.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        So when your one assigned gun breaks, you want to be totally disarmed during combat?

        Sounds risky.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gandhi_2 (1108023)

        you've never been on a battlefield before, have you?

        or had to think about:
        being overrun
        swapping weapons when they break
        manning the most casualty-producing weapon when the crew became casualties
        or any of the other stuff you have no business pontificating about.

        • by swillden (191260)
          Luckily, given the distinguishing capabilities of modern fingerprint scanners, once you've loaded a few thousand fingerprints into the unit you'll have a high degree of assurance that any random person who picks up the gun will be considered authorized to shoot it.
    • by eth1 (94901) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:14PM (#43583063)

      I cannot imagine what a nightmare it will be to manage weapons access thru fingerprints into a large military unit.

      Nowhere near the nightmare caused by all the soldiers that would die when their weapons refuse to fire. Or when an enemy figures out that a relatively cheap EMP generator will disarm an entire unit.

  • by mcelrath (8027) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:33PM (#43582369) Homepage

    If this fingerprint scanner works as poorly and as slowly as the fingerprint scanner on my Thinkpad, there's no way in hell anyone would want this on a gun.

    If on the other hand you want to make sure no one can ever fire the gun, this sounds great.

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:37PM (#43582439) Homepage

    ..about buying this equipment for my guns.

    I don't care much about the false positive rate, because I keep my guns locked up. What I need to know before I buy is, what's the false negative rate and the response time? I own some guns for sporting purposes, and a couple of big clunky rifles for hunting. A false negative or a laggy response time on those isn't necessarily a big deal. OTOH my wife and I also have guns for self defense and home defense. A false negative or laggy response time on those could get us killed.

  • "Fire gun!" (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:37PM (#43582441)

    "You do not have permission to fire this gun."

    "sudo Fire gun!"

    *BLAM*

  • by bogidu (300637) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:38PM (#43582447)

    That's called 'transfer of firearm' and is illegal in many places thanks to our politicians. Creating technology to circumvent the law sounds like a sticky place to go.

    • I thought that "transfer of firearm" was intended to cover change of ownership ("This gun is yours now") versus handing it over temporarily for the purpose of handling or firing ("Check out my new SIG, want to shoot it?"). Is my thinking here wrong? If so, what am I missing?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    is now real.

  • Safety loophole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j-stroy (640921) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:44PM (#43582535)
    This technology could cause accidents by people assuming the safety function is operational, similar to when electric carving knives were introduced they had a pressure activated on switch on the blade.

    It may also lead to the assumption that a gun is safe when it can still accidentally fire for other reasons inherent in a firearms mechanism.
    • This technology could cause accidents by people assuming the safety function is operational, similar to when electric carving knives were introduced they had a pressure activated on switch on the blade. It may also lead to the assumption that a gun is safe when it can still accidentally fire for other reasons inherent in a firearms mechanism.

      Not to mention that a gun "keyed" to it's owner and used (or fired) in a crime will be used to lock up the owner because "only he" could fire it. What's the software platform anyway, Java?

  • by willoughby (1367773) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:48PM (#43582615)

    If I really need my pistol to function, and I have blood on my hands, I don't think I'd trust one of these.

  • Given that most firearms technology starts with the military and then spreads out to the civilan market Congress should require this technology for the military. Also since the police are becoming most militarized they should also use. When it is good enough for the Special Forces and the Secret Service protective details I might consider it.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday April 29, 2013 @01:52PM (#43582677) Homepage Journal

    Upon pushing the trigger a display on the gun prompts:
    Are you sure you wish to fire this gun?
    [ok][cancel]

  • ... just peer down the barrel, squinting with one eye, and press then joggle the trigger.

    But it is not going to be popular. The thief will simply take the gun from you, and know the cheat code trig-trig-up-down-up-down-A-B-A-B and presto, all the levels would be unlocked.

  • Smart enough? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by stevegee58 (1179505)
    Would the new "smart" guns have been smart enough to save Trayvon Martin, or a classroom full or little children, or a movie theatre full of innocent people?
    *sound of crickets*
    Didn't think so.
  • "A single gun owner could also temporarily program a friend or family member's print into the gun to go target shooting and then remove it upon returning home."

    Either that or the guy who takes your gun will also take your finger

  • You select the target with your iris and eye gestures, recognized by cybereye or goggles. Target gets a highlight/targetting frame.
    You move the gun so that the reticle (based on gun-mounted camera) on your HUD enters the defined targetting frame.
    The moment the gun detects the match (reticle enters the frame = the gun is aimed at the target), it fires, hitting the highlit target.

    This is how a smart gun is supposed to work. Not some shmancy safety feature.

  • i'm shocked (shocked!) that there's no long thread about how this technology will promote fingers being hacked off (and worn around the neck along with several others necklace style) by eeevil folk. for instance, here's your precedent: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4396831.stm [bbc.co.uk] now... let's get on with our panicking about this aspect, shall we?
  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:09PM (#43582971) Homepage

    Pulls trigger. Nothing. Notices blinking LED by trigger. Looks at six character LCD display scrolling past. "15 updates are available, would you like to download now? Please tap once for yes, twice for no."

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:11PM (#43583003)

    A smarter society would be a much better solution.

  • by Skillet5151 (972916) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:31PM (#43583277)

    According to Miller, had smart gun technology been available to Nancy Lanza, she could have programmed her guns so that only her fingerprint could have activated them; she could have enabled her son to shoot them at a firing range and disabled them upon returning home, or she could have enabled them for her son to use all the time, Miller said.

    "So without the technology, we went from zero percent chance of preventing the shootings to having the technology and a 66% chance of preventing it," Miller said. "Those are much better odds."

    Wow. How...what...really? "There's three scenarios related to this event I can think of in my head right now and two of them would be better ergo 66% chance of improvement?"

    When I walk outside I can either be hit by lightning or not be hit by lightning, so 50% chance right? What the fuck?

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday April 29, 2013 @02:40PM (#43583405)

    Someone picking up a dropped gun in a fight and using it against its owner? Probably. But someone like Lanza from stealing his mom's guns, opening them up and jamming the solenoid in the 'enabled' position? I doubt it.

    Guns are remarkably simple mechanical devices. Stolen guns will have their interlock mechanisms filed down or superglued and placed on the black market.

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