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Smart Tech Firearm Challenge offers US$1m to advance gun safety

Smart Tech Firearm Challenge o...
By offering substantial rewards for technological solutions to gun safety, the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation believes it can make a safer country without compromising 2nd Amendment Rights
By offering substantial rewards for technological solutions to gun safety, the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation believes it can make a safer country without compromising 2nd Amendment Rights
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By offering substantial rewards for technological solutions to gun safety, the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation believes it can make a safer country without compromising 2nd Amendment Rights
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By offering substantial rewards for technological solutions to gun safety, the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation believes it can make a safer country without compromising 2nd Amendment Rights

While legislative solutions to curbing gun violence in the US continue to meet fervent opposition, the Smart Tech Foundation, formed to incentivize free-market solutions to firearm safety, aims to take a different route. Through its Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, it believes circumventing the political debate and fostering innovation in smart gun technology is a viable way to move toward a safer society.

Launched in California last week, the global challenge identifies four different categories as key pillars in the effort to reduce gun violence and offers US$1 million in grants and prize money for each.

The first category, Smart Tech For Firearms, for which it is currently taking applications, is centered on technology that reliably authorizes approved use. With 1.4 million firearms stolen during burglaries between 2005 and 2010 in the US according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, preventing guns from falling into the wrong hands, or making them worthless if they do, forms an integral part of the foundation's vision.

The other three categories, which will open up for applications sometime later this year, include; Smart Tech for Big Data, which looks to develop ways to optimize law enforcement patrol routes and gunshot detection using big data and predictive analytics; Smart Tech for Brain Health, which looks to promote innovation "in the fields of mental health, neurology and optimized intervention" and; Smart Tech for Community Safety, which is focused on crisis response and crowd-based alert networks for safer schools and communities.

The Armatix intelligent pistol, which we looked at in 2010, is an example of the type of thinking the challenge is looking to encourage. Users identify themselves via a fingerprint sensor on a custom wristwatch, which in turn sends a signal to to the gun and enables it for use.

In offering substantial rewards for technological solutions to gun safety, the foundation believes it can make a safer country for all, without compromising the constitutional rights valued by so many.

"By incentivizing the creation of free-market solutions that reduce gun violence, we can speed up the discovery of innovative technologies to make America safer without altering 2nd Amendment rights," its website states.

The foundation is taking applications for the Smart Tech for Firearms challenge up until March 31, 2014, with the remaining three to follow throughout the year.

Source: Smart Tech Challenges Foundation

44 comments
Nairda
Its a catch 22 for smart weapons, because ownership and intent are separate things. So incorporating fingerprint scanner into the handle will only make a firearm work for the individual. But it does not control how he will discharge it and at whom. Additionally, in a self defense scenario with a quick draw, will the scanner succeed in authorizing the user in time to defend himself. The best way is all new firearms built with removable dongles. Dongle will only work if inserted into the firearm. Dongle is highly detectable through a radiological print (radium source). Coded for the user. Detectable from a distance. Then you can have firearm free zones where you leave your dongle at the door and hold on to your piece. Of course people will modify firearm to bypass the dongle which is their given right. But that can be managed administratively through long jail sentences. For 'touching you from afar' weapons like rifles, impose a dongle free zone from beyond its usable range. Make them forbidden in towns and cities. As for old firearms and sharp sticks, required aftermarket modifications to continue to hold license. Failure to comply is managed administratively.
Anne Ominous
"Legislative solutions" to curb gun violence in the U.S. meet "fervent opposition" because just about every "legislative solution" has been TRIED over the last 100 years or so, some of them many times, in many different places, and NONE of them have worked. And we have 80+ years of statistical records to prove it. This is really not in question anymore. Insistence that it is does nothing more than demonstrate that the person insisting it hasn't done his or her homework on the subject. Nearly all "mass" shootings in recent decades, including virtually all school shootings, have taken place in areas where guns and ammunition are already illegal to possess. The shooter in the Aurora theater passed up 8 theaters closer to home, and targeted the only one that actively prohibited firearms. (The answer why is obvious: they don't want anybody shooting back.) 10 to 1 that when the news services reported that recent mall shooting, they "neglected" to mention that it was STOPPED by another guy with a gun. If he hadn't been there, how many more people would have been shot? More legislation is not going to solve problems like those. Further, violent crime (INCLUDING shootings, and INCLUDING school shootings) are drastically DOWN from what they were 30 years ago... half of what they were, in fact. While gun ownership per capita in the U.S. has steadily gone up. Further, I honestly and firmly believe technologies like Armatix are more likely to get people killed than save them. It isn't the prevention of unauthorized use that is the problem. Doing that WHILE simultaneously and reliably allowing authorized use is where they have historically failed.
Michiel Mitchell
violence in a society is a symptom, it is not a cause. this is more or less like mopping up the blood on the floor, gushing from a cut and thinking it will stop the bleeding. treat the cause, and the symptoms will disappear by themselves...
ErinTarn
A person with a can of gasoline and some matches can cause far more damage than one with a gun. Imagine if James Holmes had barred the exits to the theater and simply threw some gasoline and a match inside the theater. The method of murder isn't as important as the motive.
ezeflyer
Why not design non-lethal weapons instead? Bear spray can protect you from twenty attackers without killing anyone.
Jeff Goldstein
I am a certified firearms instructor and know that relying on a safety mechanism on a firearm is dangerous. It will encourage the idea of people leaving loaded firearms around children. Instead of paying for technology that will never be 100% reliable and may encourage dangerous behavior. we need to look at where and how guns are used illegally. Most murders with guns are inner city gang members shooting each other and innocent bystanders usually over illegal drugs. Decriminalize narcotics and the problem will disappear. It worked when alcohol prohibition was ended. Responsible, law abiding adults aren't the problem. They should be able to buy firearms without restriction. Even background checks are a waste of limited law enforcement resources.
myale
Okay so we disconnect the actual trigger and make this an electronic switch. Then can use a range of option - fingerprint scanner, mobile phone linked, implanted RFD etc Still would need to come up with some destruction option if compromised - I like the Mega city option of exploding but I guess this is a bit extreme and if you forgot to charge your phone one day - messy.
Steve Northrop
The best thing they could do if the intent is firearm safety would be to have a program in every school in the Country to educate and inform all children regardless of age. The Program would need to be tailored to different age groups and by high school have actual hands on shooting and safety instruction. The mystery and fear would be taken away and most would find that an inanimate object holds no more power than any other.
Mel Tisdale
I am sure that no one considered sufficiently responsible to own a gun would agree that anyone has a right to plan to kill, be it by gun, knife or whatever weapon of their choice. That being the case, it follows that the need to own a gun is either for use in target practice and the like, as found at gun clubs, or it is for self defence. Let us take the former as a given and if it were the only use envisaged for guns, then it would be possible to build a legislate framework around their use in gun clubs, with secure storage between meets and sufficient control over their usage and subsequent return to storage during them. That leaves their only intended use being for self defence, which is a wholly different can of worms. I don't live in the states and so might be out of touch, but my understanding is that the states with the least number of deaths and serious injury from guns are, counter intuitively also those with the laxest gun control legislation. So, seeing as the debate over gun control has spanned many decades already and by the look of things is going to span even more in future, why not try a national experiment in an attempt to resolve it once and for all? Chose the laxest set of gun control regulations found in any of the states and also chose the most draconian. Have a period of time, let's say one year, with one set and the following year with the other set (though I suspect that it might be better to have at least two years), or some requirement that climate conditions should be roughly compatible. Let us say either both during La Niña or neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate pattern conditions - people tend to lose their tempers during heat waves, which often come courtesy of El Niño events. After the period of experimentation, let the number of criminal gun incidents be the deciding factor. Can't be worse than carrying on endlessly wrangling over the matter, can it? I suggest that the experiments should start with the most draconian, because I suspect that it is the most lax that will win the day, especially if the above evidence is true, and therefore the trial period can simply be extended until it is decided to make it permanent (again, gun crime numbers being the only consideration). From a personal perspective, the Second Amendment makes a lot of sense, especially considering the way things are going, but that is another matter entirely, well, almost entirely.
Iman Azol
Waste of time. The mfr wants it to default to "fail" to avoid liability. The user wants it to default to "fire" for safety. (For the clueless, my gun is "safe" if I can shoot it at the bad guy, and "unsafe" if I can't.) Any electronic module can be removed or circumvented, much like cell phones are rechipped regularly. Criminals will do this. When I need a gun, half a second to activate it is 2 seconds too long. I will dismantle any such crap you put on a gun, so I can use it when I need to. And it has no effect on the mindset of the shooter. Once he's coded the gun, he can shoot at anything he wants. Nairda's suggestion of some kind of dongle is the typical retardery from people who don't understand guns and fear them (HINT: they're inanimate objects, like cars or powertools. They do nothing without an operator). Then there's the billion guns in existence already that don't have this crap. People who fear guns just need to grow up.