Is Sentinl’s Biometric Trigger Lock the Future of Gun Safety?

When Detroit-based engineer Omer Kiyani was 16, he was shot in the mouth. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time—the crime happened in what he describes as “no different than an average American neighborhood.” Kiyani didn’t know the perpetrator, who has never been caught, but one of the few facts to emerge in the case was that the shooter used a gun that wasn’t registered to him.

Kiyani, who has spent most of his career as a safety engineer for the auto industry, is now an adult, but the shooting still haunts him. “I gave people lots of gun safety ideas,” he says. “They didn’t do anything with them, so I decided to do it myself.”

After a stint in TechTown’s accelerator, Kiyani last year launched Sentinl, a startup on a mission to increase gun safety and keep firearms out of the hands of kids and criminals.

“As a parent, a gun owner, and a victim of gun violence, I know what can happen,” Kiyani says. “And I’m an engineer, so I solve problems.”

Kiyani has created a detachable, biometric trigger lock that he calls Indentilock. Based on the same technology as the iPhone 5S, the device can be disengaged with the proper fingerprint. “Once the sensor is activated, it sends a signal to disengage and the clamp drops off in one second,” he says.

Indentilock glows in the dark and its fingerprint sensor is compliant with FBI standards. It includes a feature that can be used to enroll multiple authorized users on the same gun. Kiyani also says Indentilock’s battery is rechargeable. Sentinl is currently in the process of securing a patent for Indentilock.

Though Indentilock is still in the prototype validation phase—Kiyani says his target for production is late summer—it has been getting a lot of attention recently. Late last month, CNN included Sentinl in a report about emerging smart gun technology. In January, organizers behind Smart Tech Foundation’s $1 million contest to identify devices for preventing gun-related injuries and deaths flew Kiyani to San Francisco for the contest’s announcement.

Sentinl is pursuing a seed round of investment to help bring Indentilock to market. People can also go to the company’s website and donate money to support R&D on the device. Kiyani is in the process of hiring a team to help the company scale.

“It’s difficult for gun owners to do much more than shrug their shoulders,” Kiyani adds. “Our goal is to make gun owners more responsible for safety.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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