The Biofire Smart Gun. Photographer: James Stukenberg for Bloomberg Businessweek
Topics: Biometrics, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Democracy, Materials Science, Semiconductor Technology
Tech Target (Alyssa Provazza, Editorial Director): "A smartphone is a cellular telephone with an integrated computer and other features not originally associated with telephones, such as an operating system, web browsing, and the ability to run software applications." Smartphones, however, have had a detrimental effect on humans regarding health, critical thinking, and cognitive skills, convenient though they are.
I've seen the idea of "smart guns" for decades. Like the fingerprint scan for biometric safes, it's a safeguard that some will opt for but most likely won't unless compelled by legislation, which in the current "thoughts and prayers" environment (i.e., sloganeering is easier than proposing a law if you continually get away with it), I'm not holding my breath. A recent, late 20th Century example:
In 1974, the federal government passed the National Maximum Speed Law, which restricted the maximum permissible vehicle speed limit to 55 miles per hour (mph) on all interstate roads in the United States.1 The law was a response to the 1973 oil embargo, and its intent was to reduce fuel consumption. In the year after the National Maximum Speed Law was enacted, road fatalities declined 16.4%, from 54,052 in 1973 to 45,196 in 1974.2
In April of 1987, Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, which permitted states to raise the legal speed limit on rural interstates to 65 mph.3 Under this legislation, 41 states raised their posted speed limits to 65 mph on segments of rural interstates. On November 28, 1995, Congress passed the National Highway Designation Act, which officially removed all federal speed limit controls. Since 1995, all US states have raised their posted speed limits on rural interstates; many have also raised the posted speed limits on urban interstates and non interstate roads.
Conclusions. Reduced speed limits and improved enforcement with speed camera networks could immediately reduce speeds and save lives, in addition to reducing gas consumption, cutting emissions of air pollutants, saving valuable years of productivity, and reducing the cost of motor vehicle crashes.
Long-Term Effects of Repealing the National Maximum Speed Limit in the United States, Lee S. Friedman, Ph.D., corresponding author Donald Hedeker, Ph.D., and Elihu D. Richter, MD, MPH, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Homo Sapiens, (Latin) "wise men," don't always do smart things.
In an office parking lot about halfway between Denver and Boulder, a former 50-foot-long shipping container has been converted into a cramped indoor shooting range. Paper targets with torsos printed on them hang from two parallel tracks, and a rubber trap waits at the back of the container to catch the spent bullets. Black acoustic foam padding on the walls softens the gunshot noise to make the experience more bearable for the shooter, while an air filtration system sucks particulates out of the air. It’s a far cry from the gleaming labs of the average James Bond movie, but Q might still be proud.
The weapons being tested at this site are smart guns: They can identify their registered users and won’t fire [for] anyone else. Smart guns have been a notoriously quixotic category for decades. The weapons carry the hope that an extra technological safeguard might prevent a wide range of gun-related accidents and deaths. But making a smart gun that’s good enough to be taken seriously has proved beyond difficult. It’s rare to find engineers with a strong understanding of both ballistics and biometrics whose products can be expected to work perfectly in life-or-death situations.
Some recent attempts have amounted to little more than a sensor or two slapped onto an existing weapon. More promising products have required too many steps and taken too much time to fire compared with the speed of a conventional handgun. What separates the Biofire Smart Gun here in the converted shipping container is that its ID systems, which scan fingerprints and faces, have been thoroughly melded into the firing mechanism. The battery-powered weapon has the sophistication of high-end consumer electronics, but it’s still a gun at its core.
A Smart Gun Is Finally Here, But Does Anyone Want It? Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg Business Week