Armatrix SmartGun safety system uses wristwatch to authenticate weapons


February 1, 2010

The Armatrix SmartGun concept features a handgun that won't work without authentication from the biometric wristwatch

The Armatrix SmartGun concept features a handgun that won't work without authentication from the biometric wristwatch

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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.


About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Potential problem: Watches are phasing out, people don\'t like to wear them any more.

Gruph Norgle

Hmmm, Where I live, everybody has wrist watches. In fact, those who do NOT have a wrist watch are somewhat looked down upon as being bohemian.



@Gruph. I\'m sure watches will be around for awhile... especially if you\'re part of a unit that requires them to fire your weapon....

Rare situation though: if the officer/soldier injured their dominant shooting hand with the watch, and had to fire the weapon with their injured hand... would it work? Is there a short radius for firing? Or the shooter just be trained to hold the injured wrist near the weapon as the opposite hand fired the weapon?


I say watches are eternal... or at least my Casio G-Shock solar-powered watch is, anyway. When the bombs drop, they\'ll be nothing left but little cockroaches wearing little G-Shocks.

Since this product is more intended for those who employ a gun in their line of work, I don\'t think mandating wearing the watch will be a problem.

The problem I see is this, however... all this tech sounds so dang cool now I want to go out and buy some weapons! I\'m barely able to resist adding one of those Metal Storm virtual minefields to my Amazon Wish List. Let your dogs walk on my lawn will ya? KA-BOOM!


Seems like an electronic ring enabler, worn on the shooting hand, would be effective.

IggyDalrymple does the system address a situation where a cop has to switch hands to fire the pistol? That is...during a struggle, or if his strong side is wounded?

Steanson Parks

Why bother making the gun with a calibre of .22? Surely that size is only used for target practice? I thought of a gun which falls to pieces if it is snatched from your hand. A locking pin in the butt holds it together. The pin is attached to your wrist.


Cool idea, but what happens when someone attacks me in my house? Do I ask them to wait while I go put on my watch, enable the watch and then load the weapon? OK, so I wear the watch all the time \"just in case\". How long does it take to enable the watch?

OK, so maybe I should not have a weapon. Fare enough. But what happens when an officer needs to access his shotgun in a hurry? Anything that slows down access by an officer in an emergency is not a help.


Another dumb idea destined to the garbage bin of history - and if not for Gimags motto of \"Sensationalise and Sell\" it would be reaching there even sooner.

Mr Stiffy

\"SMart guns\" seem to be predicated on the idea that only police or the rich should have guns.

As others have pointed out: what happens if the user, whether officer or not, needs to use his off hand? what happens if someone kicks in my door in the middle of the night? what happens if I am not home and my wife needs to defend herself from someone who kicks in the door? what happens if the officer\'s partner needs to pick up his gun and use it? What happens if the officer needs to transition to his backup gun? What happens if the watch breaks? or there is Electromagnetic interference?

WHat will the increase in cost involved in conversion to a \"smart gun\"?

I believe the real reason behind the push for smart guns is that the anti-gunners will use their existence in the marketplace to push for a ban on all guns that are NOT \"smart.\"

The combination of banning the pre-existing guns and dramatically increasing the cost of the legal guns will effectively disarm the poor and (possibly)middle class, leaving only the wealthy and the government armed. Now, I realize that some people believe that is the way it should be, but I disagree.


I know if I was head of an organised crime gang I would get an expert to work on a device to disable the signal from the watch to the gun. Thereby disabling the laws chances of shooting your foot soldiers in a fire fight. ANY radio signal can be blocked with a high enough powered signal.

Imagine how uneasy this would/could make the police forces, wondering if the criminal is going to beat you to the first shot because your gun is disabled.

What about faults etc. When it comes time to fire the gun, it may take an extra few fractions of a second one day to ID the wearers watch signal. Everyone knows there is NOTHING in this world that is infallible about electronics.


I think everybody has seen an instance where an officer was assisted by a citizen coming onto a seen. So what happens when this citizen can\'t fire the officers weapon and both the officer and citizen are killed due to this technology. Citizens all over will start refusing to help because they \"will get killed in action\". This is just another dumb use for technology.

Tony Lamb

This is such obvious BS, for such a huge variety of reasons, it is hard to know where to begin.

FIRST, as clearly demonstrated on MythBusters more than once, fingerprint scanners are a joke. A bad joke at that; not funny at all. Even the expensive ones are ridiculously easy to spoof. As "authentication" for a deadly weapon, I would judge even considering this idea to be a complete waste of brain time.

Second, as someone else mentioned here, jamming the signal would seem to be a feasible prospect.

Third, and more importantly, there are too many ACCIDENTAL ways that such a system can fail, like being lost or forgotten somewhere, or having the batteries fail, etc.

When it comes to self-defense, I want my weapon to be 99.999% reliable, at ALL times. This system is specifically designed to make sure that it is NOT reliable, at least some of the time (the prescribed operating times, for example).

There is no way in hell I would trust my life to such a device. I would not consider it even for a moment. BAD IDEA.

Anne Ominous

The NRA would lobby against this with both barrels loaded :)

Rocky Stefano

Don't watches run on batteries? what if the watch dies? or if the watch gets lost or drowns?

Jaime Fonseca
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