Austin’s Tracking Point Uses Wi-Fi, Video Tech to Build Smarter Gun

7/11/14Follow @angelashah

It’s like a video game come to life.

Tracking Point, based in an Austin, TX, suburb, has developed a firearms technology that allows shooters to harness the power of Wi-Fi, the Web, and streaming video for the kind of long-range precision shooting that can guide bullets to hunting or military targets around corners.

The company’s app, called ShotView, streams video through wearable devices, enabling shooters to “see” over ramparts or other obstacles and hit targets not directly visible. Also, the firearms can connect to each other via Wi-Fi to share data and livestream the action on laptops, tablets, and other devices. So, the gun could be lifted over a rampart but the shooter stays safely behind, watching the target on Google Glass through video streamed from the firearm’s Wi-Fi server.

“The idea really excites people,” says John Lupher, Tracking Point’s CEO.

ShotView is one piece of technology sold by the company, which makes what it calls precision-guidance semiautomatic and bolt-action firearms (rifles) loaded with a built-in computer to enable shooters to hit targets as far away as 1,200 feet. Tracking Point calls its special sauce the “XactSystem,” a “lock-and-launch” technology similar to those in jet fighters that can read and adjust for environmental variables such as temperature, distance, and wind to improve accuracy of shots, even at long distances. Essentially, the human hand might shake; Tracking Point’s systems, the company says, do not.

An assortment of tools, such as sensors, gyros, and laser range finders calculate the distance, angle, and other measurements of the shot. A user looks through a headsup display and moves a red button onto the intended target. This arms the trigger. A red X then appears in the view finder and the shooter moves the X over the tag. When the trigger is pulled, the gun will not go off if it feels the hand move or other less-than-ideal conditions. It waits that micro of a second until an accurate shot can be had.

Lupher stresses that the technology is not just an attachment to existing firearms. “The algorithms that govern how the gun performs is tailored specifically around the firearm components,” he says. “This is a built-from-scratch type of system.”

Much of the recent innovation around firearms has been focused on gun safety. The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation in Silicon Valley earlier this year issued an X-prize-like $1 million challenge for high-tech inventions— sensors and such—that can reduce gun violence by preventing anyone other than the gun’s owner from using it.

A few months ago, German manufacturer Armatix found itself the target of gun rights advocates’ ire when news spread about its iP1 pistol, which can only be fired after the owner enters a PIN code on an accompanying … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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