November 20, 2017

This Teen’s Brilliant Invention Could Prevent Accidental Gun Deaths

17-year-old Kai Kloepfer’s invention might’ve just solved one of America’s biggest issues—accidental gun deaths.

The teen has invented a device that uses fingerprint sensors to prohibit anyone but certified users from firing the weapon. The main focus of the device is to prevent children and teens from injuring or killing themselves after accidentally stumbling upon firearms.

“Since 1979, two and a half times as many children and teens have been killed with firearms as the total number of US military casualties in the Iraq, Vietnam and Afghanistan wars combined,” Kloepfer told Fox 31 Denver News, who interviewed him about the invention. “That’s a statistic that we could fix.”

kai-kloepfer-smart-tech-13Kai Kloepfer/Smart Tech


Last year, the Colorado teen entered his biometric touch sensor in the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and placed 34th out of 7 million student entries. Now, Smart Tech Challenges Foundation has awarded him $50,000 to make the invention into a reality.

The grant is in conjunction with Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, a program that seeks to improve firearm safety and reduce gun-related tragedies by emphasizing personalization features and locking devices on firearms.

“All you have to do is pick the firearm up and the way you naturally rest your hand on the firearm unlocks it,” Kloepfer said. “So you don’t have to swipe or anything like that.”

Kai-Kloepfer-Smart-Tech-1-1024x683Kai Kloepfer/Smart Tech

The sensor can be programmed with multiple fingerprints, so it would work for police forces or military use, in addition to protecting small children or other users from accessing household guns.

Kai installed his device on a plastic model replica of a Beretta Px4, and during tests, the sensor worked 99.9 percent of the time. His original design only cost about $3,000—what seems like a small price to pay to avoid the multitude of accidental gun deaths that occur every year.

Get the facts about gun safety with our Action Brief on the subject.

MTV Weekend Editor. Acts like Madonna but listens to Merle.

@harmonicait

About the author  ⁄ Caitlin White

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