June 24, 2013

Questions Loom Over U of M's Concealed Weapons Detector

The University of Michigan, funded by the DOD has been working on a detector system that would detect persons carrying illegal explosives or firearms. A lot of gun rights advocates are getting their panties in a bunch, and as an advocate for the 2nd Amendment and a free thinker, I think we need to look at this device, analyze what we know about it and draw some conclusions, because no matter what side of the "debate" you are on- whether you are anti-gun or pro-gun, vitrol is spewed back and forth blended with tension and emotion. One side speaks fact and the other wishful thinking- but both are guilty of heated, emotional arguments.

The system works, apparently, by analyzing the acoustic signature of a normal person, then comparing it to the target it is analyzing. According to the engineers, it takes less than a second to analyze a person. They claim that this "will make people safer". While the concept of the device is valid, they failed to explain the execution of their claim. Specifically, they did not prove that the device would make people safer.

If this device were to be installed at an airport or sports stadium, I question whether it can read multiple targets at the same time. If it is truly quick in analyzing it's target, how fast can it change targets but still prevent relevant threat information to appropriate authorities? They haven't even discussed human interaction with the device, let alone a working user interface for the device.

Additionally,  they haven't described how accurate the system is. They cannot even tell if a gun is being carried. The device works via an acoustic signature- what if I am wearing a wallet with a chain? How accurate is this acoustic signature? What about persons of different weight? size? shoes? Every single person that enters the sports stadium or airport can be tracked "from afar", but can the human user keep up?

More critically, the technology is still in the concept stage. The guns.com article even said that the radar has not been tested on a real firearm. So what are they testing, and how are they going to calibrate the machine to recognize the acoustic signature of an irregular object? Because nothing has been done in the practical world, I find the video in the article immediately suspect when it shows how the acoustic signatures are different. It's like looking at my morning business and picking out the differences.

This is a neat, albeit cute- proof of concept that hasn't even been properly tested. As for illegal search and seizures, some advocates are already crying about how they will be illegally frisked and searched. You have rights- you can refuse to be searched, but they can ask you to leave.

I also noticed that, among the mass school shootings this device is trying to prevent, not one person carried the weapon in concealed. They arrived at the slaughter zone to do their business with no resistance. Funny how they always pick places with no resistance. Those would be "gun free zones".

We'll see where the tech goes. If the police end up profiling you wrongly, feel free to make an example out of them. And by that, I mean sue the ever living hell out of them.



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