The first shots are echoed in the shooting range of Bayonne, New Jersey, in mid-December 2004, before a small group of sixty people: scientists, deputies, senators, journalists and law enforcement officials. There was no applause, but the satisfaction was palpable. The first
Biometric Gun Safe
was so loudly presented to the world, because it was computerized and programmed so that it could be used only by its rightful owner, in this case, a policeman in security service at the New Jersey Polytechnic University (NJIT).
The spread of rifles and guns in the United States, where the possession of firearms is constitutionally allowed to anyone, is so high that fatal accidents are the order of the day. Some of them are so grotesque as to make those who are led to the macabre humor smile, as is the case with that young man who started shooting a few inches away from the lizards who were sunbathing on a boulder near their home (perhaps he had never heard of rebounds, we can guarantee that he will never hear of anything again). Others are chilling, as happens when two children play with a weapon found in a drawer that turns out to be true and charged.
The intelligent gun developed at NJIT by professor Michael Recce, associate professor of computer systems, and his team incorporates sixteen sensors, which measure the shape and size of the hand, the type and strength of the grip, even the style with which the trigger is pressed: it is biometrics, a science that is relatively new and full of hope. The model demonstrated in December is only a prototype, because the scientists who created it still want to improve reliability (already over ninety percent) and at the same time allow greater flexibility in the customization process. For example, it would be useful if a gun assigned to a police department agreed to be used by all body members only.
The development of the safe weapon has required relatively little time (we began to reason in 1999) and a few Quattrini: two and a half million dollars, one of which comes from federal funds and the rest from the coffers of New Jersey. The local legislature has also approved a law according to which, three years after the sale of the first commercial models of personalized and safe gun, the sale of ordinary firearms will finally be prohibited throughout the state. Now some New Jersey politicians are thinking of proposing similar legislation at the federal level.
The goal is to launch safe weapons on the market in January 2006. To work for this goal is an Australian company, Metal Storm, which has signed a contract with NJIT in order to use patents on the sensor system and he expects to add to them some of his own innovations, including the electronic ignition of the projectiles and the possibility of using different gauges in the same weapon.
In the future a little more remote, according to Professor Recce, there are different applications of the same technology. For example, cars and planes that allow themselves to be driven only by the legitimate driver: and so, no more car thieves and no more terrorists crashing into skyscrapers. Not bad, for a research project that cost so little …