Silicon Valley startup unveils Internet-connected smart guns for cops — video included
Canadian Awareness Network
Oct 30, 2014
Real-time data on location, and when weapons are being unholstered and fired.
by David Kravets – Oct 24 2014, 12:30pm EDT
A Silicon Valley startup said Friday that police agencies were field testing its new product: a wireless sensor that transforms officers’ weapons into smart guns with real-time telemetry.
Yardarm Technologies’ sensor is a small device that goes inside gun handles and provides dispatchers with real-time geo-location tracking information on the weapon. The Yardarm Sensor also sends alerts when a weapon is unholstered or fired, and it can “record the direction of aim, providing real-time tactical value for commanders and providing crime scene investigators valuable data for prosecution,” the company said.
The 10-employee company based in Capitola, California, said it was deploying the technology on a trial basis. The first takers have been the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department in California and the Carrollton Police Department in Texas.
“By connecting the firearm to the cloud, we give departments a technology that enhances officer safety, improves operational efficiency, and builds community trust,” Jim Schaff, a Yardarm vice president, said.
The announcement comes as the public is seeking more accountability of officers following the August 9 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The shooting has prompted widespread protests and left some demanding a technological solution.
In response, the Ferguson Police Department began equipping its officers with body cameras so that officers may record their daily patrols. Police departments elsewhere have also started using body cameras, and others are exploring the idea. A White House petition with 154,000-plus signatures is demanding that all police in the US “wear a camera.”
While it won’t capture the details of all of an officer’s interactions with the public, the Yardarm device may provide critical information. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak was highly optimistic that the sensors would bolster accountability. “A law enforcement leader’s ultimate responsibility is to keep their staff and the public safe at all times,” Wowak said. “Yardarm’s technology is a groundbreaking way to do just that, and every sheriff and police chief worldwide should be looking at this product for the future of their department.”
Yardarm is also marketing the technology to private security firms and the military. It hopes to capitalize not just on its hardware but on subscription fees from dispatcher software makers.
The sensors put into gun handles are connected via Bluetooth to a law enforcement official’s smartphone, which sends the data to Yardarm’s servers. The data is then routed to police departments in encrypted form, the company said.
The 18-month-old startup has raised about $1.5 million so far and has radically altered its business model. Initially, the company focused on the consumer firearms market, but it ran into controversy. It was hawking technology that would allow private gun owners the ability to remotely lock a weapon. If a weapon was moved—or stolen—an alarm would alert the owner’s mobile phone. The owner would have the option to remotely disable the weapon from being fired.
But gun rights advocates, like the National Rifle Association, say smart guns could limit Second Amendment rights. “NRA recognizes that the ‘smart guns’ issue clearly has the potential to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology,” the group said. Marketing to the police and military would avoid this potential controversy.
Listing image by Yardarm Technologies
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