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biofire smart gun

Will smart guns save lives?

Kai Kloepfer was in high school in 2012 when a man walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and killed 12 while injuring 70 more. 

Now 26, Kloepfer is releasing a product he has been working on ever since: a smart gun. It started as a science fair project in response to the shooting and is now the centerpiece of Biofire, which has raised $30 million in funding. Here’s the story.

Unsettling stats

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gun-related deaths involving people ages one to 24 increased from 6,998 to 10,186 between 2000 and 2020 (including murders, suicides and accidents). In 2017, this surpassed car crashes as the number one cause of death from injury for this age group.

While cars are getting safer annually, with standard equipment incorporating automatic braking and side airbags, the same can’t be said for guns.

“I’m not from Silicon Valley, so I don’t think technology can solve every problem,” Kloepfer told Bloomberg. “But I do think America has a unique ability to solve some complicated sociopolitical problems with technology.”

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The brains

Biofire’s smart gun uses fingerprint and facial recognition sensors to detect who’s using the weapon. Up to five people can be registered for a single gun, which won’t function unless one passes the identity test. 

The gun packs circuit boards, processors, LEDs and is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which charges in an hour. The firearm can function for months on a full charge. 

Squeezing the trigger feels like a regular gun, but it doesn’t function the same way. Think of the trigger as a button that sends a signal to an electrical firing system while the user’s biometrics are scanned. 

Identify yourself

The smart gun comes with a small device equipped with a touchscreen to register the gun and works similarly to how you scan your face and fingerprint for a smartphone. 

The smart gun locks the moment it leaves your hand to keep anyone else from using it if you set it down or it’s taken from you.

The gun has no GPS or way to wirelessly connect to the internet, which is critical in protecting against hacks. Owners can connect the device to the internet for updates, but this is optional. 

Glam up your gun

You have many customization options, including the color of the barrel, grip, trigger and magazine release. And here’s a feature you don’t usually find with guns — choose a left- or right-handed smart gun based on the hand you use to pull the trigger.

The preorder price is $1,499, including a $149 deposit, and the gun is expected to ship in the second quarter of this year. You can find more information here.

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