Yellow Jacket

The Yellow Jacket is a phone case for the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and Samsung G3 that doubles as a stun gun. In less than two seconds, this iPhone case can be turned into a weapon capable of delivering a 650K volt of electricity.

TrackingPoint

TrackingPoint is a high-end firearms firm that produces Linux-powered weapons which can lock onto a target from 1,000 yards away. The company's cheapest model starts at $17,500 and comes with an included iPad mini--their weapons have built-in cameras which film hits and send them to social media.

Guided Mortars

One of Northrop Grumman's newest patents is for guided mortars which follow RF beams generated by ground devices to their final destination.

GPS-Guided Mortars

Some troops in Afghanistan are now being provided with Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative cartridges--mortars which are guided by GPS to their targets. The U.S. military hopes that precision-guided mortars will minimize risk to civilians in battle situations.

CyberCity

CyberCity is a working mockup of a real city made from model railroad parts designed to simulate the real world, kinetic effects of cyberwarfare.

The Latest, Deadliest Gun And Weaponry Innovations, Brought To You By A Newtown, CT Trade Group

Since the Sandy Hook massacre, there have been 1,013 deaths from gun violence in the United States. Meanwhile, one of the country's biggest gun shows--sponsored by a Newtown-based group--is currently underway in Las Vegas. Here's a look inside our complicated manufacturing of deadly force.

Rifles tricked-out with Wi-Fi that lock onto their targets as if in a video game and send hunting kill shots to your friends on social media. GPS-packed, self-guided mortar shells that use satellites to reach their final destinations. Mock towns where the military and private actors test out cyberwarfare scenarios. The next generation of weapons and military tools are here, whether we like them or not.

Post-Sandy Hook, the question of how much we like weapons is more fraught than ever. Yesterday, President Obama laid out 23 solutions for combating gun violence in the United States. Still, the U.S. has a huge market for rifles and pistols of all sort. Some of them are used legitimately for sporting purposes. Others are collected en masse, with many citizens collecting several guns under the same roof for self-defense purposes. Since Newtown, there have been 1,013 American deaths from gun violence. Right now in Las Vegas, the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT), is taking place. SHOT is one of America's biggest gun industry trade shows--and it is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The NSSF, as it happens, is based in Newtown, Connecticut. The organization has led a rebranding campaign to rename AR-15s and other military-style semiautomatic rifles as “modern sporting rifles.” The campaign's tagline is “Trucks have changed since Grandpa got his ... So have hunting rifles.”

At the SHOT show, which is closed to the public and has restricted media access, approximately 60,000 people are visiting 12 miles of booths at the Sands Expo Convention Center. Manufacturers give visitors, mainly retailers, hands-on opportunities to try the latest weapons and gadgets like an iPhone case that doubles as a stun gun.

Other high-tech weapons available on the retail market include Linux-powered rifles. TrackingPoint is an Austin, Texas-based startup which makes high-end “precision guided firearms” whose higher-end models can lock onto targets from 1,000 yards away. TrackingPoint's rifles also include a built-in iPad app (the weapons come with complimentary iPad minis) that allow instant shot viewing and sharing via social media. TrackingPoint's Bret Boyd told Fast Company that the weapons, which start at $17,500 for the cheapest model, are aimed at the hunting market and have a fully integrated iOS and Android functionality for sharing video replays.

The gun captures each shot sequence from the time a target is tagged until 10 seconds after the shot. When hunting, users can simply lock on a target and fire--the skill factor is largely removed from the equation. While the rifle's design makes it undesirable for close range use, it also offers something close to guaranteed hits on hunting and safari trips.

Shortly after the new year, a patent application was filed for radio-guided mortar shells and bullets. Northrop Grumman patented a process for projectiles to work in tandem with a polarized RF beam. That tech works like this: A ground emitter locks on to a target, which then automatically makes the mortar shell, bullet, or other projectile follow the beam to its destination. Guided bullets and shells have been on the United States military's (among others) dream shopping list for years--the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been pouring heavy funds into hyper-velocity bullets guided by GPS systems; General Dynamics has also been testing GPS-guided mortars for use by UAVs. Even ground troops in Afghanistan are testing out GPS-guided mortar rounds.

The Office of Naval Research is also working on a program called Data-to-Decisions, which is designed to implement private sector-style big data analysis for the military. According to ONR's program announcement, the military is looking for algorithms to parse publicly available data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and websites to find the “frequency of contacts between nodes and clusters”; the dream is to create predictive text-based analytics that provide more detailed views of how groups of interest operate. Of particular interest, says Nextgov's Dawn Lim, are data sets relating to agriculture, terrain, weather, demographics, and economic indicators. Open Source intelligence where data is parsed from publicly available sources has been gaining acceptance with the military for some time; however, private sector organizations such as financial institutions and insurance companies use it in a much more agile nature than the public sector.

Meanwhile, researchers at a private organization have built a model city for cyberwarfare in New Jersey. Co.Exist's Emily Badger recently discovered CyberCity, a model railroad-style mockup of a real town constructed by information security training organization SANS. CyberCity, which is 6 feet by 8 feet, is used by public and private parties--including government officials--to simulate the kinetic effects of cyberwarfare. The town has 15,000 virtual inhabitants, all of whom have their own data records and electronic health records. When bad guys hack into the power grid, the mockup suffers a real blackout. When malicious hackers hack into the traffic systems, traffic lights go out and there's chaos on the road. However, participants are also trained in how to derail trains barreling towards towns with radiological weapons, and how to reprogram rocket launchers aimed at hospitals. It's not too hard to imagine training taking place for offensive cyberwarfare as well.

Innovation takes place in the world of weapons and defense just as it does in other fields. The challenge is to make sure innovations are used wisely--and not to waste taxpayer money or to create high-end hunting toys. After all, as drone warfare teaches us, today's science fiction is tomorrow's everyday life.

[Top Image: U.S. Army]

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20 Comments

  • andy

    SAND HOOK IS A HOAX. It was a fabricated series of events planned by the government for years. Facts- No video evidence WHATSOEVER of the shooter or shootings, or evacuation of the "600" kids (that apparently took place at night). Not a single tear shed by ANY of the parents interviewed, and being a parent, thats just unbelievable. almost ALL of the parents if researched have acting backgrounds. ALL children shot were shot multiple times by a RIFLE, WHICH WAS FOUND IN THE TRUNK OF THE CAR OUTSIDE. ZERO injuries? ALL dead? EXTREMELY unlikely. 20 year old autistic kid a better then military sharpshooter that never misses and has no training? personally doing shooting drills myself, I know that is impossible.  And no record of the kid for 3 years prior to this shooting whatsoever? NONE of the dead were pronounced so by ems, which is completely agains law enforcement protocol, roads were blocked to the school, father of one kid laughing before a press conference and clearly seen "getting into character" and immediately pushing for new gun legislation. WAKE UP, YOUR GOVERNMENT IS STRIPING YOUR RIGHTS AND STAGING MASSACRES TO DO SO!  

  • Werner Vos

    Sweet Wi-Fi. So now i can show all my friends exactly how big a murderous bastard i really am! Sickos

  • ibuyufo

    It really made me sick watching the video.  I can appreciate how amazing this technology is to be able to shoot a target from that far away but shooting these helpless animals for no other reason than just to kill them is wrong.

  • Marshall Hines

    Neal, can you site the source for the unnumbered of gun deaths since Sandy Hook stat. I'd like to read a little more about that. Thanks.

  • 500cubes

     Look at that map, Moscow Idaho, no one has been shot and killed in Moscow Idaho since 2011.

  • Neal Ungerleider

    Marshall, the gun death number above was taken from an ongoing project by Slate.com and the   Twitter feed. I linked in the article above to the original source; the number correlates to publicly released data on gun deaths gathered from police departments and media.

    -Neal Ungerleider, fastcompany.com

  • Sr71james

    I have been a hunter for over fifty years , this is not hunting. ,it is simply shooting,and this does not take skill just a lot of money, don't confuse the to JJ

  • mona

    I know how to shoot but I do not hunt because I feel it is not a sport to kill a living animal who already faces many difficulties in order to survive but if someone needs to hunt to eat that is a different thing.  That should, however, not be done with high tech weapons or arrows.  This description of hunting with a recording of every shot with background music is absolutely sick.  I am hopeful something reasonable will be passed but the NRA should lose its non profit status and people should recognize that the organization is nothing but a highly paid lobby outfit for the gun industry.  Nothing more.  Take a look at the list of people on the Board of Directors.  And that politicians elected and paid by the taxpayers should be intimidated by such a group is disgusting.  They are paid to do a job for the people not for an outfit who behave as if they are running a protection racket.  Enact legislation we want or we'll make sure you lose your next election.  

  • Deejay David Jube

    The gun industry stands to make money from the second amendment.  If they will protect the 2nd Amendment in defense of their own interests then their interests are my interests.  Furthermore, many many many American PEOPLE are backing this "Lobby outfit".  So it must be an organization for "the people" by "the people".  'Nuf said about that.

    However I do agree that hunting should not be a "sport" but rather a means of gathering food.

  • John

    While the technology is amazing. I found it rather disgusting killing animals with upbeat music playing in the background. Hey, killing is fun, eh? Not.

  • Wize Adz

    Indeed.  I grew up around hunting.  I've been educated on the right way t do it, though I've never felt the need to hunt myself.

    Like my father taught me, if you're going to hunt, you need to take it seriously, like the life and death activity that it is.  Also, no matter who you are or what uniform you are wearing, NEVER point a gun at anything or anyone that you don't intend to kill.

    These are simple rules my father taught me. People who lightly celebrate the death of an animal really miss the gravity of an animal dying so that the hunter may eat. That's a deadly serious thing, and there are worthwhile reasons to do it... But trivializing it should disgust everyone of sound conscience, regardless of whether they hunt or not.

  • Wize Adz

    Do you have a number?  Even if the "guns save life" were true (despite it being STRONGLY counter-intuitive), it would be hard to account for.

    So, do you have a number?

  • Wafflecheeks

    Besides the pink stun gun what does any of the rest of this have to do with weapons that the average citizen can buy?  I don't think we have a mortar problem.  Seriously, a person could be injured by the non-sequitor leap from the linux-based sniper rifle to GPS-guided mortars.  And how is a sniper rifle which costs $175,000.00 a problem?  It is not like we all have that kind of money just laying around.  Heck, if Congress wants to ban all sniper rifles that cost $100,000.00 or more, I say have at it.

  • Wize Adz

    Or, better yet, a ban on all sniper rifles that cost LESS than $100k.

    That way, the people who really value guns can have them, and people who can't hold their own lives together won't be able to buy them.This sounds like the perfect market-based gun rights system that addresses everyone's needs to me.

  • Guest

     A) Heller used a judicial process called selective incorporation, so such a ban would fail the first constitutional challenge posed.
    B) How do you define "sniper rifle", even basic sporting rifles are easily tuned to be effective to 800 yards, with a bit of expense, they can feather the same bullet hole at 1000.
    C) How do you attempt to do this without running into a vague and unconstitutional restriction on general purpose firearms ownership/usage?
    D) Why?

    Look at the mass shootings, look at the states they have taken place.
    Why is it that almost exclusively these are states that have fairly substantial restrictions on gun rights, or have taken place in locations such as churches and schools which have federal-level restrictions that apply?

    Criminals are not going to be dissuaded by laws, and the acts of the mentally ill are not something you can legislate a solution on.

  • Wize Adz

    Virginia is a very pro-gun state.  That sure as hell didn't prevent the shooting at Virginia Tech.  Getting that messed up kid to a psychiatrist probably WOULD have prevented that tragedy. I'll happily pay more taxes to get messed up kids to psychiatrists.

    An alternative to gun control that I like: gun insurance.  Buy whatever gun you want, just so long as someone will cover the damage you might cause with it in your hands -- or in the hands of a family member or stranger who takes the gun.

    If the pro-gun arguments hold, then insurance companies should pay you to have a gun!  In real life, though, it'll probably cost about the same as car insurance (the fatality rate is comparable) -- and this would provide resources to the victims and communities that have to clean up after this kind of crime.