Presented at the 2016 International San Francisco Smart Gun Symposium (ironic, considering the city shuttered its last gun shop in 2015), then 18-year-old Kai Kloepfer presented a new handgun design that incorporates a fingerprint reader. Young Mr. Kloepfer is sponsored by angel investor Ron Conway, who’s Smart Tech Challenges Foundation is spending $1.5 million for the development of “firearms safety technology.” Kloepfer is one of about 15 start-ups that Conway is sponsoring.
The design has been in skunk-works for over four years. Kloepfer’s start-up, Biofire, is “just a few months from a live-firing prototype, which assuming it works, will be the first gun to unlock like an iPhone.” This is untrue, as multiple finger-print reader base firearms have existed before, specifically Kodiak Industries with their Intelligun
Even if proven reliable (which no “smart” firearms technology has to date due to batteries), the Biofire will face deeply rooted mistrust of electronic locks on a firearm. When weapons need to be 100% functional after sitting for extended periods, electronic devices have had a tendency to fail too often due to aforementioned batteries and mechanical failure due to recoil.
Combined with the need to grip the firearm a certain way, I can see this technology failing to gain wide acceptance. Simply put, humans do not grip everything the same every time and the weapon is not lefty-friendly.
Still, its interesting to watch the brains in the high-tech world attempt to apply solutions to decidedly “low-tech” firearms. With electronic scopes and trigger systems making their way into public acceptance, “smart gun” capability is only a matter of time.
*Title photo courtesy of the WSJ, photographer Matt Nager.
Editor Says: TFB univocally opposes electronic locks on firearms.