News Release

NJIT's smart gun moves closer to completion with $1.1 million grant

Grant and Award Announcement

New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Scientists at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) were awarded $1.1 million by the US Department of Justice to continue testing a safer personalized weapon.

"We're still on target with a delivery date of January, 2006, for a commercial-ready prototype of a smart gun," said Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, vice president for research and development at NJIT and professor of mechanical engineering. "This new money allows us to keep field tests and evaluations running smoothly with researchers at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), in Picatinny." The gun has been in testing at Picatinny for almost a year now.

(Editor's Note: Reporters may schedule a time to observe the firing of a prototype weapon by calling Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436.)

Since 2000, NJIT has spearheaded efforts to develop a personalized handgun that can recognize, instantly and reliably, one or more pre-programmed authorized users. To date, the New Jersey legislature has awarded NJIT $1.5 million for the project.

In December of 2002, New Jersey became the first state to pass legislation specifying that three years after it is determined that personalized handguns are available for retail sale, dealers and manufacturers will not be able to sell, assign or transfer any handgun legally unless it is personalized. Last January, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg and U.S. Senator Jon S.Corzine hosted a media conference at NJIT to highlight the project.

The attention capped a year of developments. Six months earlier (May, 2003) Michael Recce, PhD, associate professor of information systems at NJIT, received a patent for inventing Dynamic Grip Recognition. This behavioral biometric has enabled Timothy Chang, PhD, professor of electrical engineering at NJIT, assisted by a team of engineers, to embed multiple small electronic sensors in both sides of the gun's grip. The sensors identify the user. The finished gun will eventually feature both electronic features and computerized parts. Recce sees his invention someday also being used in other applications--perhaps the yoke of a plane or the steering wheel of a car.

Then, last fall, NJIT also signed an agreement with the Australian-based research and development company Metal Storm Ltd. Metal Storm owns a patent for its Electronic Firing System which can be used in a handgun. Metal Storm's O'DwyerTM VLe® system is a unique, patented approach to firing projectiles. Entirely electronic, the system utilizes preloaded barrels holding multiple projectiles that are fired by electronic ignition. For the first time, interchangeable and multiple barrels can be made available to fire a range of projectiles of varying caliber from the same handgun.

"We're grateful for the money," said Sebastian. "We're looking forward to seeing the project near completion."


New Jersey Institute of Technology, the state's public technological research university, enrolls more than 8,800 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 100 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and eLearning.

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