Grip sensor gives location, ammo counts

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An article that came out in The Smithsonian talks about a device made by Yardarm Technologies that once placed and activated in the backstrap of a handgun, allows a real time feed back to a Police headquarters that shows if the gun has been fired, or how many times it has been fired, in addition to the location of the gun. The company is based in Capitola, California and is testing their product with various local California Law Enforcement agencies.

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From the Smithsonian. Although it is shown in Glocks, it doesn’t say if it was applicable in other firearms.

From the Smithsonian article-

The sensor is about the size of a matchbook and slides easily inside the grip of a Glock sidearm. It contains a battery, accelerometer, magnetometer (or compass), gyroscope, processor and Bluetooth radio. Together, these components can determine whether or not the gun is in an officer’s holster, which direction it’s pointing, where and when shots are fired and whether or not an officer has been separated from his or her firearm. There’s currently no limit to how many firearms the system can monitor at once. Data syncs with Yardarm’s cloud servers through the officer’s smartphone, and dispatchers and commanders can view a readout in real time.

This is the same company that came out with a similar gadget to remotely control a firearms trigger safety, so the firearm could only be used when the owner of it activates it for use. That product failed and the company has since discontinued it.

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From the Yardarm Technologies website.

From the Yardarm Technologies website about device-

The Yardarm Sensor recognizes geo-location, movement, holstering and un-holstering, the discharge of a firearm, as well as direction of fire. These events are transmitted in real-time to CAD or RTCC dashboards, allowing command to use this information to support officers in the field.  Custom rule-sets and provisioning tools allow commanders to establish custom use models that match the needs for their departments and officers. This flexibility enables a wide range of use-cases that can be applied to the sidearm an officer carries or tactical weapons used by SWAT and the military.

Apparently the technology is using some of the modern technology in use with cell phones such as the cloud and 3G services-

The Yardarm Sensor connects to the Yardarm Cloud via GSM and provides a set of powerful data streams that can be imported into the industry’s leading CAD and RTCC software solutions via standard APIs.

Although this is interesting technology, and certainly has its benefits there are some obvious downsides. One note of concern is from a political perspective in which a “Big Brother” type of mentality could occur if these devices become so mainstream that there could be a government initiative to put them in all firearms and not just Law Enforcement or Military applications. Another point is that this device seems to fit Glocks well, but what about other handguns? Because not all police departments use Glocks despite their widespread popularity.

A policeman’s sidearm is just a tool to help the officers do their jobs, and like other tools they get switched around, turned in for repair, or get replaced with new firearms. Adding this grip sensor in every single police officers firearm would complicate things on a whole new level from an armor’s perspective, especially when each chip probably costs more than the actual firearm it is serving. A technology that would probably do more justice and at a lower price would be the body cameras that are starting to come in use among some police officers. Another statistic out there is that a majority of police officers go their entire careers without ever firing their side arms. As evidenced in a New York Times article about guns and police-

Nearly 95 percent of New York City’s 38,000 officers have never fired their weapons while fighting crime.

This also contrasts with a similar use of technology by police, covered on TFB in an earlier post about  shot spotter technology being used in the UK and spotting more city noises than actual gun shots from crime.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Menger40

    Hey, if it increases police accountability or officer safety and departments want it, more power to ’em. If the government ever tries to force something like this down every gun owner’s throat, that’s another story.

    • Joshua

      It is made in California……Do you honestly think it won’t be crammed down everyone’s throat?

      • Menger40

        Hey Josh, I didn’t say whether I think that will happen or not. Are you just lookin’ for someone to argue with?

      • joe

        Nothing 1 second in a microwave won’t fix

    • Ethan

      Unfortunately that scenario is inevitable if this tech becomes widely accepted. It is the nature of power.

    • Harry Bedford Exeter

      Although I agree with you, I would argue that a body camera would be much more effective in accountability.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    For Poloce, Yes!
    For me, No!

    I’d like to see this after cameras are in place.

  • Phil Hsueh

    I’m not sure that the police even need this really, do PDs commonly have problems with unreported shootings from their officers? Or is it in case an officer is involved a firefight and is hit before he/she is able to call it in?

    • Paul Epstein

      The latter is the one situation in which there seems to be legitimate justification- if the gun is pulled and fired without the officer radioing in a reason, there’s something going on that almost certainly requires backup to head there immediately. Either the gun has been stolen (and potentially used on the officer), the officer is involved in am intense firefight to the degree that radio contact is impossible, or the unlikely case you mentioned of the officer drawing and firing for no good reason. All three require immediate involvement of other police officers and probably paramedics as well.

    • sianmink

      I think PDs commonly have problems with officers losing their guns. This system can also help accountability for drawing on people who aren’t being threatening, which apparently happens a lot.

      • Nicks87

        What!? Are you serious? Where are you getting your facts from, a cracker jack box?

        • sianmink

          They lose all kinds of stuff here in Florida. One time they lost a helicopter.

      • No I’m afraid somebody made that one up. Never heard of that happening.

    • Zachary marrs

      It can provide a “3rd witness”

      Take the Ferguson shooting

      • Phil Hsueh

        I don’t that this device would have done much in the case of the Ferguson shooting, it wouldn’t have told investigators anything they didn’t already. They knew that the officer drew his weapon, where he was when he drew it, and how many shots he fired, it wouldn’t have told them whether he was being verbally or physically assaulted when or before he drew his weapon and I don’t think that the tracking on it is accurate to tell them is there was any kind of struggle for the weapon or not.

        I think that the most useful thing for police accountability as well as to protect them from false claims are body cameras. Body cameras would tell much more than this gizmo would.

        • Zachary marrs

          Early on, there was the question of whether Michael brown was fighting the officer or whatever.

          The only witness was the cop, so yeah, the camera doesn’t lie, and it would have provided a useful, non biased account

          • mosinman

            that is, if it didn’t “malfunction”

  • Phil White

    they should work on getting body cameras on every cop in the country first. when I was on the force we had a similar device on our Dunkin’ Donuts boxes so HQ could determine if our donut count was getting low-“Uhh -Squad 54 you are in need of more crullers ASAP-over”

    • Harry Bedford Exeter

      I concur that you aren’t in favor of afore-mentioned device 😉

  • RKflorida

    Sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

  • DIR911911 .

    do they need to know the exact moment an officer fires a weapon ? why not start hiring people that can be trusted?

    • Phil White

      Robert Jordan vs City of New London, CT.

  • FrenchKiss

    I like my guns the same way Obama likes his voters: UNDOCUMENTED.

  • Lance

    Last thing you want is another computer strapped to your gear.

    • Phil Hsueh

      While I don’t see much use for this device I also don’t see how it would affect anything by having it in your gun. Sure it’s an electronic device and can fail but so what, it’s not like it affects the functionality of the gun in any way. If the batteries die in the thing of the shock of firing eventually breaks it you’ll still be able to use your gun just fine, the only people it would affect are those responsible for tracking the data collected by the device.

  • mosinman

    i think this should be used for government agencies and police but not forced on the public. after all the police should have nothing to hide 😉

    • claymore

      But the public do?

      • mosinman

        we are tasked with watching those in authority

        • claymore

          Yes so?

          • mosinman

            why are *you* opposed to this being used in police guns?

          • claymore

            Anything electronic is bad and why are you opposed to civilians having them forced on THEM also?

          • mosinman

            this doesn’t affect the functionality of the gun.
            i’m opposed to it being forced upon civilians because we 1. generally are not in positions of authority 2. we aren’t public servants nor enforcers of the law. i’m for it because it can potentially protect civilians and protect cops and also help enforce accountability in the case of excessive force, just like body cameras and dashcams.

          • claymore

            So civilians are more special than police? Who commits more crime the citizens so they should be forced to have this so we can identify where they are shooting from…how’s that?

          • mosinman

            yes. and that’s up for debate. i’d say getting away with unjustified shootings and getting “punished” by getting paid vacation is a crime. self investigation of misconduct is also fishy. but it’s seems like we should agree to disagree as i don’t want to get too much into government.

          • claymore

            I said MORE crimes and civilians are way ahead in ANY category you can make up

          • claymore

            Think about this it may wake you up to the real facts. First and foremost you were not at any of those things you blab about or the hearings so all you are doing is rambling on about something you know nothing about.

            Then there is this: there are about 800,000 law enforcement officers with arrest powers in the States at any time. So lets say they have 6 “contacts” with non-leos like motor vehicle stops violations of all kinds, investigations, accidents, alarms, checking stores all the normal leo jobs.

            We will say six to account for days off, holidays, sick leave etc. but in reality it is way more than that with traffic enforcement officers 50-100 or more a day but we will go with 6 to account for others that work in offices and admin jobs.

            So 6 x 800,000 is 4,800,000 contacts a day. Per week 4,800,000 x 7 is 19,200,000. Per month 19,200,000 x12 is 230,400,000 and the biggie by year 230,400,000 x 12 is 2,764,800,000.

            See it again 2,764,800,000 that is right almost 3 BILLION contacts between police and non-police a year and yet you pick what 20-30 times a year the results are what you don’t like OUT OF 3 BILLION so how about the other 2,764,799,970 contacts that went right don’t they count for you?

  • MclarenF1Forever

    This might come in handy for the machineguns that ATF lost, like the one in Wisconsin.

  • noob

    price will come down with mass production. like way-way down to the point where each completed module will be fabbed single chip and stuck on a foil antenna.

    you’ll be talking pennies per unit.

  • Spidouz

    And pretty soon, they will replace the front sight by a little tiny camera to record the whole scene…

  • Pete Sheppard

    You can bet your bottom dollar that if this gimmick is procured for police guns, there will be a move to require it for citizens’ guns.

  • greensoup

    Its bluetooth in the grip. Its not really going to be useful for tracking you unless you choose to allow it. It looks and sounds like a mobile phone sensor pack with a baby processor and bluetooth.

    It would have interesting applications in the collection of data on law enforcement/

    It would also have interesting applications in the analysis of your shooting technique. Position, over under, lean left or right etc etc.

  • John

    This would have been useful during the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.

  • Tom Currie

    Could be a useful tool for some PDs that are under federal ‘monitoring’ due to their history of questionable incidents.

    However, having a bit of knowledge about connectivity I see a lot of potential failure points for a system that needs to be exchanging that much data over a Bluetooth connection in real time. And the company’s claim that there is no limit on the number of firearms that can be monitored simultaneously is total BS (as well as being technologically impossible). Bandwidth is still a finite resource. The system WILL fail to provide real time data in situations where there are too many cell phones in use in an area. It would make more sense to provide a small “black box” that the officer adds to his belt that records the data for later review – even that will have some connectivity issues but it would bypass the major issue of trying to flood the data for an entire department through cell phone towers into a central monitoring station.

  • Charles Rose

    I might have missed it in the article. It’s usually a bad idea to place electronics on thinks that go boom & expect them to continue to function afterwards. Did the company talk about reliability or how long the item was suppose to function? Maybe they’re relying on idea that several officers in a department wont need to fire their weapons…

  • Djs588

    I’m a little confused. If my personal defense weapon is required to have this device installed, will that mean I cannot wear gloves when the weather turns cold?

  • Worm

    As a police trainer and armor I offer the following:

    There are twp purposes for the hollow space in the Glock backstrap. One is to allow dirt/debris to fall free from the frame as there is a hole from he trigger housing leading to the backstrap. The second is for your thumb so you can get a better grip if forcibly stripping the mag becomes necessary during serious malfunctions. This is why those frame plugs and this contraption are a bad idea.

    Additonally, budgets are finite. Money spent on this gadget or cameras is money not spent on training. I know this first hand. Admin weenies love crap like this because they obsess about liability. You can’t have it all and so training is the first thing sacrificed. Most cops spend less hours practicing use of force skills than a beer league softball team spends practicing. So if you like poorly training guys with guns who will be unsure of themselves getting into gunfights amid the general public by all means keep advocating such nonsense.

  • Worm

    While the cost of the hardware may eventually go down, the big money will be speny on data storage (depending how long the data is stored) and IT support.

    As a cop if I can’t drive it, shoot it, stop bullets with it, communicate on it, fight with it, find bad guys with it, stop bleeding with it, it is f-ing usless to me.