Another in a 2014 guest column series which builds on the one in 2009 where 50+ had written about how science/tech has evolved their hobby/interest.
This time it is Scott Schenker who helps companies like Microsoft and SAP with design and production of their elaborate events. Here he writes about his interest in shooting.
Let me start by saying this has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment. This article focuses on the impact of technology on guns, not the political or legal issues related to them. Also, I have no personal or professional relationship with any of the companies I mention.
Hand guns are all about technology. The mechanics and chemistry of sending a projectile down a barrel are the “technology” - and magic -of old. For hundreds of year, innovations have resulted in new versions of the same base formula.Today, modern technology far beyond the base sciences are having game changing impact.
There is an App for that
Early weapons faced challenges with accuracy that were addressed over time. Rifling in the barrel spins the bullet much as a quarterback would a football to keep it straight once thrown; longer barrels give shooters a greater distance between the back and front sights improving accuracy and keeping the bullet straight longer.
Inteliscope, MeoPix, and others are replacing or augmenting optical scopes with mobile devices (i.e. smart phones) allowing for “both-eyes open” targeting and more. Associated apps provides GPS, wind conditions, magnification, training drills, and more.
Forbes recently wrote about TrackingPoint which has modified a standard .300 Winchester Magnum Rifle with a laser rangefinder, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer for aiming, as well as a digital processor to decide when best to “take the shot”. It can even Wi-Fi a live streaming video feed.
Taking the need to aim out of the equation all together, the US military is working on “self-guided bullets” that can travel over a mile towards a laser marked target. Someday, a bullet fired into the air will hit its target, marked by a laser from a bird sized drone a mile above, with pin-point accuracy.
Make it Better, Anywhere.
The need for improved reliability in high volume and unforgiving environments led to technologies such as the polymer parts found in “working” (rather than sport) military and law enforcement weapons.They benefit from simplicity of design, interchangeable parts, and easy field stripping to clean and clear jams. The AK47’s popularity comes from these characteristics.
The ability to download and “print” a gun (it’s been done in plastic and metal) is today’s most controversial technology surrounding guns. While 3D printing is less about the democratization of the manufacturing process (gunsmiths and others have been making guns by hand, and at home,for years) it raises issues (as with many other “printable” items) such as control over distribution, ownership rights, and monetization. Consider the impact (good and bad) to global politics and stability when anyone can print an unlimited armory, on-site, and at will.
Keep it Safe
Good or bad is not inherent in technology, but in how it is used. Handgun safety is benefiting from new technologies such as trigger and grip safeties that prevent accidental firing, and improved storage options.
The Gun Box addresses one of the key points of resistance some firearm owners have in keeping their weapons locked in a safe - quick access. Using RFID and fingerprint recognition,it provides secure, quick, and authorized access. It offers an on-the-table design (ask Apple how important design is to the acceptance of new technology) with 2 USB ports for charging devices to further reduce resistance to keeping the weapon secure for those seeking a bedside/night stand solution, and GPS tracking so its location is always known.
Interestingly, another modern technology was behind The Gun Box – Indiegogo. The project was launched on the community funding site, raising 130% of its goal. This shift in manufacturing (from “build, sell, paid” to “sell, paid, build”) is changing commerce and allowing ideas such as The Gun Box to reach market faster.