(NEW YORK) — Following TrackingPoint’s “smart rifle,” which has tracking and digital optic technology to create for a more precise shot, a California-based company has demonstrated a different type of smart gun technology.
Yardarm has introduced its Safety First technology, which can allow gun owners to remotely engage or disengage the trigger safety on their firearms. The technology has to be built right into the firearm, though no gun manufacturer has yet done so.
This is how it works: Inside the gun lives a processor, sensor and a SIM card, just like the one in your phone. All of that technology allows the gun to talk to a phone app. Using the app, a gun owner will be able to see information about their firearm when they are away from their gun.
The software will alert the owner if there is movement of their gun. Whether it is just a slight tap or the gun is taken a long distance, the owner will be able to geolocate their gun and engage or disengage the trigger safety. The app will require a password, when logged in a user will be able to manage any of their firearms with the Yardarm technology.
The technology does not allow, however, for the gun to be remotely fired.
“This is much more flexible for the gun owner,” Jim Schaff, the vice president of marketing of Yardarm, told ABC News. “It allows the gun owner to set gun rules. It will send alerts — it can email or SMS them — and let them know if someone is handling their gun. Maybe they have kids at home. Maybe someone is robbing their house. Whatever it may be, they can track it.”
Schaff told ABC News that the company wants the owner to have the choice. That’s why there is the engage-and-disengage feature.
“We want to give the control to the owner of the gun,” Schaff said. “The owner can set rules based on the motion sensor tech. If there is any motion, they can set it so it always activates the safety or they can go the other way. We don’t want the tech to impede.”
Even despite the ability to engage the firearm’s safety, Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, thinks this type of smart gun tech is needed.
“There is a lot of interesting technology out there. The problem is the manufacturers haven’t incorporated any of it,” Horwitz told ABC News. “If you have remote access, you have to be able to engage or disengage — that technology is not remarkable. What is remarkable is that it is widespread and no one is using it. Any type of thing where you can keep your gun locked is good, but it’s not good that this isn’t an option out there now.”
Elliot Fineman, CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council, agreed.
“Anything that would disable a gun so that the gun owner is the only one who could fire it is a very important step in the right direction,” Fineman told ABC News.
He added that this sort of technology could also help specifically with the issues of kids getting a hold of their parents’ guns.
“There are two things we hear about over and over. One is the situation where a kid under 19 goes someplace and kills some people,” Fineman said. “The other thing that comes up is that of the 18,000 gun suicides that happen a year, 800 of them are kids. And what gun do they use? They use their parents’ gun.”
Horwitz and Fineman both cited other companies that are working on similar smart gun technology, including a German company called Unterfoehring, which has developed a personalized gun that uses biometrics to recognize who you are.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is also working on a gun that knows the mold of your hand and won’t work unless it recognizes the shape of the hand.
Horwitz and Fineman believe that the NRA has stood in the way of these smart guns making their way to market. The NRA did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Still, Yardarm said that two major gun makers are very interested in the technology, but that it won’t be ready for commercialization until next year. The company expects the cost of the technology to add about $50 to the price of a firearm.
“The nature of this smart gun technology is so different,” Schaff said. “It gives much more control to the gun owner. Gun owners will be much more interested in what we have. It’s a low cost, low burden and it still leaves a lot of control to the gun owner.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News