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Group Gives 17-Year-Old $50,000 for His Gun Innovations


“We need the iPhone of guns ... ”

(Image source: Smart Tech)

There's a group from Silicon Valley that just gave a 17-year-old $50,000 to keep playing with guns.

The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, based in California's tech capital, announced it is funding a young innovator from Colorado who is integrating a biometric sensor into a firearm that requires an authorized user’s fingerprint to discharge -- and they claim the sensor is 99.99% accurate with fingerprint recognition — even with partial prints.

(Image source: Smart Tech) (Image source: Smart Tech)

Kai Kloepfer, a high school student from Boulder, Colorado, is the first benefactor of the $1 million Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, which will award grants to a total of 15 innovators "who are working to improve firearm safety by developing personalization features in firearms, locking devices, and ammunition systems," the foundation said in a release.

“It’s going to be my generation – the ones who have grown up with digital technology and electronic integration – that will lead the way in the development and adoption of smart gun technology,” Kloepfer said. “This type of technology has previously only existed in science fiction movies. But young people are open to exploring our options as consumers and as innovators. I have real hope that we can apply biometric technology to firearms in order to reduce accidental deaths and injuries, and to prevent tragedies.”

Ron Conway, an established Silicon Valley tech investor and the founding donor to the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, said it's time for a major upgrade in gun technology.

“We need the iPhone of guns,” Conway said in an interview with the Washington Post.

And with the hefty attention Apple gained Tuesday with their next round of iPhone and Apple Watch smart technology, gun investors who want to push the industry into the biotech realm may get real support. “The entrepreneur who does this right could be the Mark Zuckerberg of guns," Conway added.

Smart Tech released the following info:

"Kai is receiving the $50,000 grant to apply toward the integration of a fingerprint scanner, which can be programmed for a virtually unlimited number of users, from a plastic model of a Beretta Px4 Storm onto a live firearm. The sensor that Kai is working with boasts a 99.99% accurate fingerprint recognition rate—even with partial prints. He has already used a part of his Foundation grant to purchase a professional-grade 3D printer to create new parts for his prototype.

(Image source: Smart Tech) Kai Kloepfer began working on his smart gun concepts partly in response to the (Image source: Smart Tech)

Smart Tech says the young engineer began working on his technology partly as a response to the movie theater shooting at the Aurora, Colorado, just about an hour’s drive from his home. Kloepfer will be speaking at TEDx Mile High: CONVERGENCE in Denver, Colorado on September 13 to discuss his innovative technological approach to firearms safety.


Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter. 

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