|'Smart Rifle' Begins Shipping to Owners|
|Daniel Bean||May 17, 2013, 2:29 PM|
A Texas startup has developed a "smart rifle"that barely needs to be aimed.
The maker of the gun, being shipped to stores this week, brags that "even a novice shooter can become an elite long-range marksman in minutes."
The company, TrackingPoint, has said its "world's first" long range Precision Guided Firearms (PGF) integrate precision hardware, digital optics, and tracking technology to deliver an unmatched shooting experience. The line of rifles starts at about $22,500 and each comes packaged with an iPad mini including the interactive TrackingPoint mobile app.
"We're taking centuries old tech, firearms and ammunition, and introducing 21st century technology to it," TrackingPoint CEO Jason Schauble told ABC News.
The PGF line of rifles come equipped with what the company is calling the XactSystem, which uses a network tracking scope with digital display interface, laser tagging to "paint" a moving target, and a guided trigger that only lets the shooter fire when there is a high percentage shot.
The weapon is being introduced at a time when the debate over gun control has raised tempers on both sides of the argument.
Schauble said safety is paramount, just like with any other gun or rifle. "It is a firearm. It is controlled by federal law," he said.
He said a password can be set on the gun's scope software. This doesn't render the rifle useless, but it does lock any unauthorized users out of the precision technology.
Elliot Fineman, chief executive officer of National Gun Victims Action Council, said the "smart gun" is a "mixed proposition."
"I'm very much in favor of the password protection, but [if the user opts not to utilize password protection] this product gives shooters a better accuracy than, on average, most cops," Fineman said. He said the target accuracy of most police is three out of ten.
"To think that private citizens that are not trained could shoot better than 3 out of 10, it's scary," Fineman said.
David Chipman, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns which lobbies for an expansion of background checks for people buying guns, said the PGF "is not your grandfather's hunting rifle used for sport and recreation this is a weapon designed to kill with precision."
"This technology potentially enables any two bit criminal to operate with the skills of a highly trained sniper," Chipman said.
Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, dismissed the significance of locking the software.
"This is an industry hell bent on making weapons more lethal and taking no measures to extend safety," Horwitz said. "If this type of technology is transferred into semi automatic and automatic weapons, it would make it even more lethal."
The way the gun operates sounds like a video game. The visual scope on the PGF connects via WiFi the iOS app on an iPhone or iPad by way of ShotView. The feature shows a live video of the digital Heads Up Display (HUD) and video can also be recorded and shared online. Schauble said an Android app is on the way.
TrackingPoint is in the process of developing a dedicated, online community for TrackingPoint users to share videos and information with each other.
"There's a young, digital generation that will want to hunt and shoot, so we're not only developing a product for people that shoot today, but also the new digital generation," said Schauble.
He said the live streaming ShotView feature can be used to help instruct new shooters on the fly or to capture an impressive shooting range or hunting shot to show to others later.
"We've been surprised at how many older shooters and hunters embrace the product, too. This kind of tech helps them to still hunt for years or even take shots that may not be possible with traditional hardware," he said.
The PGF rifles, TrackingPoint's first product line, was introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, but this week the company began fulfilling preorder requests with the first units shipping.
With this first run of PGF rifles, the CEO said TrackingPoint is selling directly to customers.
Schauble said his company has signed a contract to provide technology to some less expensive, short range Remington firearms, and those products will be distributed through vendors, but the distribution of other runs of TrackingPoint product will be decided on a case by case basis.
But with TrackingPoint's Precision Guided Firearms, Schauble said the main objectives are "trying to make existing, long-range shooters more capable."
"Right now, we're the most advanced tech company in outdoor shooting sports."