Smart Guns Stall
Following the passage of a contentious New Jersey bill that will require gun-makers to equip weapons with user-recognition technology when developed, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is in the process of research and development for that technology.
Researchers experimented with using PIN codes or having the user wear a transponder, but have thus far focused efforts on handgrip recognition which aims to measure individual pressure a person uses when firing a gun, and creating a lock that will only allow the owner to fire it.
NJIT has been researching this technology for the past 5 years by using piezoelectric pressure sensors and conducting tests with Army marksmen. The tests had six marksmen fire a gun equipped with sensors five times, two of them wearing gloves for two trials.
Researchers were able to correctly identify which marksmen shot with which gun approximately 95 percent of the time.
Gun makers are still wary of the proposed technology, demanding that false rejection rates be no higher than 1 in 20,000, or the rate of mechanical failure in traditional handguns.
In August NJIT signed a commitment with Metal Storm to commercialize an all-electric gun under development. The weapons triggering is controlled in the grips circuitry, allowing for personalization in the technology, although widespread sales in New Jersey are unlikely.
Traditional gun makers see the opportunity in developing safer guns that would possibly increase purchases, but still hesitate, citing their already high legal costs defending themselves against class-action lawsuits. Such hesitations would disappear if the gun lobby succeeds in getting Congress to pass a bill protecting them from such lawsuits.
Although NJIT has stated that they need $5 million and three years to create the prototype, they have conceded that they could stretch their $1 million budget until 2004.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the IEEE Spectrum (09/03); Adame, Jaime.