Biometric Pistols Could Improve Airline Security
Although the thought makes some experts and airline industry security insiders uncomfortable, one way to improve airline security is to have more armed air marshals on board. The fear is that weapons would be on board with the possibility that would-be hijackers would develop tactics to identify and overpower the marshals and take away their weapons. As things stand, this tactic woud be considered easier than smuggling weapons through check points equipped with sophisticated technology.
What to do? The U.S. government gave the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) $2 million to develop a commercially viable smart gun. These new firearms would recognize its owner's grip. If the gun was seized by an unauthorized person (or an unrecognized hand) – the gun would lock its shooting mechanism. The gun relies on Dynamic Grip Recognition (DGR), a biometric technology embedded in the gun's handle. With DGR, sensors and microprocessors analyze the interplay of bones and muscles involved in pulling the trigger, all in a fraction of a second.
Donald Sebastian, vice president for research and development at NJIT, says: "The way you hold a gun, curl your fingers, contract your hand muscles as you pull the trigger -- all of those measurements are unique." The current failure rate of the smart gun is 1 in 100 trigger pulls (not encouraging, but early in the process). The NJIT team aims to improve this rate to 1 in 10,000 by increasing the number of grip sensors from thirty-two to "hundreds" and further refining the pattern-recognition software. A commercial version is expected by 2008.