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Can a Detroit start-up curb gun violence?

After three years in development, the smart gun lock should be ready for distribution in early 2016, says Identilock inventor Omer Kiyani.
Courtesy of Identilock

The Next Idea

How do we keep guns out of the wrong hands?

No matter where you stand on the gun issue, we can all agree that’s an important issue to address.

It’s also the question driving the Identilock, a smart gun lock that uses fingerprint identification to make sure a gun can only be used by its owner.

Omer Kiyani is the founder and CEO of Sentinl, the Detroit-based company behind Identilock.

Kiyani explains that a smart gun lock is a technology that prevents unauthorized access to a gun.

“Identilock is simply a clamp that clasps the gun, preventing access to the trigger guard. Using your fingerprint, you literally press the button and it falls off the gun,” Kiyani says.

Kiyani tells us his target market includes parents like him who want to keep guns in the house without putting their family risk, but he also sees the technology benefiting gun owners at large.

“If your firearm is used [in] an unauthorized manner, you’re responsible. So anybody who owns a gun, this could be a very viable solution for them,” he says.

Kiyani’s motivation is twofold. He tells us he’s personally been the victim of gun violence, but more importantly he has professional experience to bring to the table.

“I have spent the majority of my career as an automotive safety engineer,” he says. “As a profession, I used to destroy prototype cars to make them safer.” He explains that cars have hundreds of systems in place to keep the driver safe. Identilock, he says, is a system trying to do the same for gun owners.

"If your firearm is used [in] an unauthorized manner, you're responsible."

Kiyani plans to assemble the Identilock in Detroit. He tells us that he understands why a lot of manufacturing and assembling tasks are sent overseas, but he also sees great opportunity here in Michigan.

“Anything that requires a high level of assembly is what might be better off manufactured in China, but anything that’s efficiently manufactured can be manufactured in the U.S., and in fact it is,” he says. “Detroit is a huge manufacturing hub, and I don’t know of another place that has the engineering talent of electrical, software, material science, all available within one 30-mile radius.”  

Kiyani tells us he’s been working on Identilock for the better part of three years, mostly at night after his day job. He quit his job at the beginning of the year in order to work on Identilock full time.

“The stakes are a little bit higher in the kind of product that I’m working on because each day that it’s not out there, it’s another life not saved,” Kiyani says. “I got it to a point where I knew that I can’t do this with my day job, so I had to jump in the deep end.”

Kiyani tells us the Identilock is currently in its final testing phase, and he hopes start shipping them in 2016.

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