Shortly before we received news of the Smart Gun project outlined below, we read a newspaper article from the Associated Press and learned that ~1.7 million children in the U.S. live in homes with unsecured, loaded firearms. The report was based on a 2002 telephone survey of 241,000 adults, and covered all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A lot of children, a lot of guns.
We found this report unsettling, but were somewhat cheered to read about the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Smart Gun project and the contribution made by Tactilus pressure measurement technology. The research could eventually lead to firearms that only authorized persons could operate. Here are the basic principles.
A firearm can be given a degree of intelligence by adding a pressure-sensitive substrate to the grip area. The Tactilus thin, flexible substrate material incorporates multiple sensing points each only 0.2 mm thick that provide accurate data even when the user is wearing gloves. Operating at 1 kHz, the substrate collects pressure data and sends an analog signal to an intermediary hub for digitizing. The data are then relayed to an interface for viewing and dynamic analysis. Tactilus Windows-based software provides 2D and 3D imaging; isobar and region-of-interest graphics; longitudinal and latitudinal analysis; data bar charts; pressure vs. time; statistical analysis of average, minimum, and maximum pressures; and total force over any selected area. The data can also be exported to virtually any third-party software.
The sensors, powered by lithium ion batteries, are good for thousands of uses and are highly resistant to electromechanical noise as well as temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Three years after a smart gun prototype is successfully demonstrated, the state of New Jersey will require that all newly manufactured firearms feature built-in intelligence.