Yes, “smart” guns exist. The Armatix iP1 smart gun is a special type of weapon that can only be shot by a person who holds the gun while wearing a corresponding smartwatch. The idea behind the product is to make smart guns safer than regular guns. However, a hacker has discovered a way to disable these smart guns so they can be fired just like regular guns. To add insult to the injury, anyone can purchase this hack exploit for just $15.
Armatix iP1 uses radio signals between the smart gun and the smartwatch to trigger activation. But as everyone knows by now, any gadget with the word “smart” in front of it can be hacked. And that’s exactly what has happened. A hacker who goes by the name of Plore has found a way to completely overwhelm the radio signals between the Armatix iP1 and its paired smartwatch by using a stack of magnets.
Plore placed about $15 worth of magnets near the smart gun and found that the weapon could be shot just like any regular gun. The magnets jam the radio signals and disable the locking mechanism that makes the gun “smart.” Plore also found that $20 radio signal jammers that work with devices like baby monitors also work with the smart gun.
Armatix told CNN that the smart gun was never designed with a “well prepared attacker or a skilled hacker” in mind. So the smart gun is still safe if you don’t expect to encounter resistance from anyone other than the average Joe who doesn’t know anything about radio signal jamming.
While the smart gun costs thousands of dollars, Plore managed to test the exploit with only $50. The hacker has said the intention was to motivate gun manufacturers to make more foolproof weapons.
So far smart guns have achieved one thing once thought impossible: unite gun rights advocates and the NRA. Both entities have opposed smart guns, and the topic remains rather controversial in the U.S. This hack probably doesn’t help matters for smart gun manufacturers either.