Stopping weapons from falling into the wrong hands is a major problem for law enforcement agencies all over the world. But if keeping weapons out of the clutches of the criminal element proves too difficult, the next best thing is ensuring that such weapons can’t be used if they do. That’s just what the Armatix SmartGun concept does by disabling the pistol unless it's in the hands of someone wearing a custom wristwatch that sends a signal to arm the gun.

To ensure criminals can’t just steal the watch along with the gun the user must first have their fingerprints verified. The fingerprint is read by a sensor on the watch, which compares it against an internal database of stored prints. Once the print is verified the watch is then activated for a definable period of time – a police officer’s work shift for example – or until manually deactivated.

Once the authentication procedure has been completed the weapon’s integrated locking electronics and actuators unlock the weapon automatically when it is within a predefined distance of the watch. In this way even if the gun is lost in a scuffle, it will be useless if it is not close enough to the watch. Also, if the watch is ripped off or removed, both the watch transponder and weapon are deactivated immediately.

Armatrix has chosen the handgun/wristwatch combination instead of building the biometric sensor into the gun itself to ensure the gun can be used while wearing gloves or if the user’s hands are dirty. Also the biometric transponder within the watch can be used to activate any number of weapons. Similarly, several users, such as all members of a police unit, can be authorized to use a single weapon. A record is also made every time the weapon is activated.

The current SmartGun concept is a .22 pistol, but Armatrix say that in principle it could be fitted to all types of handgun or long gun.