Given the refusal of some politicians to tighten gun laws, it’s time to consider other options when it comes to making guns safer (because we all know we can’t really make people safer). Remember that James Bond-style smart gun that was struggling to raise enough crowd-funding capital? Well, the company, Safe Gun Technology (SGTi), never did raise that money on Indiegogo, racking up just over $2,000 of a 50K goal. But that hasn’t deterred other from developing their own models, and companines like Armatix are now selling its iP1 .22 caliber pistol.
The idea behind smart gun technology is to prevent accidental shootings by equipping guns with sensors or biometric fingerprint recognition, which enable only the owner to use the gun. If you saw Skyfall, you know what I mean, this is like Bonds Walther PPK. SGTi implemented the technology on a shotgun and had plans to also implement it on a rifle, but given their Indiegogo bust, it’s not clear if that will ever happen. That’s where Armatix comes in.
Their technology is a little bit different—think safe gun plus smartwatch. A user has to wear an “intelligent” iW1 watch, or have it within a certain range, to operate the gun. Green LEDs on the weapon indicate that it’s ready for use. The watch uses a PIN code to enable the weapon, which takes conventional .22-caliber bullets. You can also monitor the charge level for the gun and the watch, as well as release the safety mechanism if you want, though the gun will deactivate automatically after a certain amount of time elapses. The gun will also automatically deactivate if it loses contact with the watch, as in cases of theft or if, in the heat of the moment, the owner loses possession of the gun. If the LEDs on the gun are red, it can’t be used.
As with guns and gun control of any kind, people are undecided about whether smartgun technology will actually help reduce fatalities. Supporters estimate that this technology could prevent over 30,000 gun deaths per year, while opponents think the number would be much smaller, and argue that gun purchasing could increase due to a perception of enhanced safety. I’m not entirely sure that’s true, given that Armatix’s iP1 retails for $1,400, with another $400 for the watch—about three times as much as a conventional handgun. This model is currently on sale in California.