While most business players are either working on new chat bots or looking for another face-recognition app, some people actually consider totally unexpected industry for further development that is, in addition, very likely to make this world better – smart guns. Imagine a startup that will bring an innovative product to compete in an established market valued at $10 billion. On top of that, the startup guarantees a $1 billion revenue, given there is a positive cash flow during 4 years. Finally, around 10 000 lives will be saved annually. Not to mention a considerable number of jobs that could be created in this new industry.
Numerous entrepreneurs, investors and experts in public health have already recognized this opportunity a million times, but no one takes a real action to encourage research and manufacturing based on smart gun technology. Possible to be fired only by authorized users, smart guns would definitely reduce the number of deaths resulting from childhood firearm accidents, suicides powered by third-party firearms and many of those crimes involving stolen guns.
Gun violence is a major social problem with serious public health implications, which is especially vital in the US, where over 30 000 American die in firefights every year. In Europe, this indicator does not reach the same level, but gun violence still arises from time to time. Most countries (including the US) lack proper gun legislation, which is not going to be improved soon. The technology-based solution like smart guns could make the situation better.
The smart-gun initiative is not brand new, it has been a theoretical option for over ten years so far. In New Jersey, US, the local administration already financed smart gun technology development led by Smith&Wesson manufacturer, topped by the Childproof Handgun Law mandating to sell only smart guns. In both cases the projects failed, met by opposition from the gun crowd’s side, whose gun rights were offended. New Jersey also provided special grants to the Institute of technology, so that they developed a biometric smart gun recognizing the owner’s thumbprint. The project was unsuccessful either, due to certain issues raised by biometric reading: for example, when police officers grip guns, their hands might be sweaty or even bloody – a lot of details should be considered.
Of course, there are alternatives to biometric reading. Therefore, RFID technology seems to be a great potential. A German company Armatix recently presented a RFID smart gun, but the price is too high – $1800. Still, industry experts believe that a 9mm RFID gun is very likely to appear in law enforcement sector within two years from now, followed then by a larger caliber.
So why don’t investors get in touch with smart gun entrepreneurs and together produce something unexpectedly useful?
Ernst Mauch, a gun expert from Armatix (who also designed the gun to kill Osama Bin Laden), has left the company and gathered an engineering team to work on smart gun development targeted at direct sales to law enforcement authorities. Mauch believes they need around $10 million to finance a two-year development project, followed by testing and product launch. Marketing costs are not included but should be minimal thanks to the free “gun” publicity.
It is not the only case like that. Smart Tech Challenges Foundation from San Francisco launched a $1 million grant challenge to finance the innovative projects that will present new user-authentification functionalities for smart guns. The winners Kai Kloepfer and Chloe Green are now developing a fingerprint-access pistol and a location-aware gun magazine respectively.
Obviously, there are still some issues to be considered and certain features to get advanced in smart gun production. Not surprisingly, some people doubt about smart guns’ reliability, although most social groups are in favor of the proposed initiative to introduce new firearms. The successful adoption is pretty high, especially by younger gun owners open to new technologies and gun-owning families with children.
From a business perspective, smart guns represent a truly promising venture. All those smart guns’ controversies – market adoption, technology flaws, and improper legislation – seem to be fading away. So careful investors must take their time!
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