SGW Designworks developed functional prototypes for LodeStar Works’ nine-millimeter "smart gun," equipped with a fingerprint reader, passcode, and a way to lock and unlock it from a mobile phone.
The firearm’s mechanical and electrical components would need to be compact, manufacturable, reliable, and sourceable. Its capabilities also needed to appeal to a wide range of potential users.
From a technical perspective, the mechanical and electrical components — including its three-button pin pad, fingerprint-reading biometric device, Bluetooth components, battery, and supporting electronics — needed to fit within the existing volume of the firearm’s frame. Additionally, because this was the first firearm of its kind to feature a keypad, there was no baseline for where to locate the buttons.
From early on, LodeStar Works had a broad audience in mind for their biometric- and keypad-activated firearm. This required that SGW Designworks accommodate competing use cases throughout prototype development.
In less than a year, SGW brought an idea to a fully functional prototype: a smart gun engineered with reliable, groundbreaking technology and designed for multiple user experiences.
To better understand the user, SGW conducted qualitative and quantitative studies to determine how individuals would interact with the firearm. This research provided learnings as to how to improve specific features (such as determining the ideal location for the biometric pin pad) to appeal to the majority of users. Multiple iterations of working prototypes incorporated these learnings.
Today, the working prototype of LodeStar’s smart gun is equipped with features that enable the gun to fire only when being handled by a pre-authorized user. It includes multiple authentication methods: fingerprint unlocking technology that unlocks the gun in microseconds, a PIN pad, and a near-field communication chip activated by a phone app. Since the fingerprint reader may not work in adverse conditions (like when wet), the PIN pad is there as a backup. The near-field communication signal acts as a secondary backup, enabling the gun as quickly as users can open the app on their phones.
The effort required mechanism design, PCBA design, biometrics integration, UI/UX, firmware development, microprocessor selection, prototyping, and product Testing. The prototype was unveiled to major media outlets in early 2022, and was featured in Reuters soon after.
Co-founder/CTO, LodeStar Works