Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
THE us police is developing a 'safe gun'
that will fire only when held by its rightful owner. Several police and army personnel who are killed on duty, are often
accidentally killed by their own gun or
by one belonging to a partner. Two
years ago the us department of justice
asked a government laboratory in New
Mexico to investigate the possibilities of
a new technology to help reduce the
number of such deaths by devising a gun
that recognises its sole user.
The gun would not fire if it is held by
another person - in essence, it is the
type of futuristic gun used by cartoon
characters! A consultation with police
officers threw up a number of requirements the researchers had to meet. In
particular, it required that the gun could
be fired by either hand, so that round
corners could be negotiated without
exposing too much of the body. Also, a
policeperson with an injured hand
would want to shoot with the other.
The Sandia National Laboratory in
New Mexico has recently made five prototype guns capable of recognising the
touch or sound of their users. The first
design requires an officer to wear a ring
which, when touched against a reader
on the gun's handle, allows it to fire.
However, the problem is that a ring
could easily be lost, stolen or
worn by a criminal. Besides, it
would also have to be in perfect
contact with the reader every
time the gun is fired.
A variation of this is a ring
or badge that contains a radio
transmitter to enable the gun to
check its user before firing. The
benefit is that an officer would
be able to fire with either hand
without wearing two rings and
would not need to make physical contact between the tag and
the gun while firing.
A third idea makes use of a
speech- recognition technology
that only allows a gun to shoot
when a key word is spoken by its
t owner. The problem with voice
recognition is that one cannot tell if the
gun would hear the shooter over the
background noise. Also, a voice can
change under threat and anxiety. This
could affect the gun's reliability.
. The laboratory has also tried a fingerprint reader incorporated into a gun
barrel. This ensures that a gun would
fire only if it recognises the user's finger
or palm prints. Current technology to
achieve this requires a processor and
battery pack, too large to be assimilated
into a handgun. A big problem with
fingerprint recognition is that police
officers often wear gloves when it is
cold, or if they are frisking suspects they
avoid touching. Cuts and grazes on
fingers would add to the problems of
The New Mexico researchers have
also worked on a simple remote control
that turns the gun on and off like an
automatic garage door. The idea is: the
police officer would turn a gun on when
it is drawn, and turn it off when placed
in the holster.
The prototype guns have been
handed over to the us department of
justice, which is displaying the five technologies to police forces all over the us.
The authorities want to ascertain the
benefits and drawbacks of these guns as and when they are used by serving officers in the. streets. The researchers
expect that once the 'safe gun' design is
decided upon and approved of, the
upgraded version could be made available to police, fire, prison and security
officers in the country. The department
of justice is slated to report later this
year on the progress and performance of
the safe gun. Based on these inputs, the
findings will be covered in the magazine
Biometric: Technology Today.