Rensselaer startup Dual:Lock has won this year’s New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) and a $100,000 grand prize. The startup is the creator of an external gun retention system allowing safe and fast access to a loaded weapon through biometric sensor technology. Team Dual:Lock members include Timothy Oh ’17, mechanical engineering, and Rachel Dyment ’17, mechanical engineering and design, innovation, and society.
The timing of Dual:Lock’s technology aligns with President Obama’s recent announcement that his administration will move on multiple fronts to save lives by encouraging the development of “smart gun” technology that allows only the owner of the gun to operate it safely.
The NYBPC is a venture creation and innovation competition that was established in 2010 to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New York’s colleges and universities. Eighty-six teams from 27 colleges and universities presented at the competition, including teams from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Siena College, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Team Dual:Lock’s winning idea focuses on a conveniently placed stainless-steel sleeve or “safe” into which gun owners will slide and lock their fully armed, ready-to-use pistols. At the top of the “safe” is a biometric scanner—the location of this sensor places the user’s hand in a ready-to-fire position—that releases the lock the instant it recognizes the gun owner’s registered thumbprint. The gun can be accessed in less than a second in the event of an emergency.
This technology can sharply reduce firearms injuries caused by unauthorized or unintended users, including suicide victims, especially youths, and children who encounter loaded guns in the home, and criminal suspects who get their hands on officers’ weapons.
Dual:Lock already has a working prototype, a patent, and letters of intent from eight national distributors. The team expects to sell the device at about $250 each and is working on versions to secure holster-mounted handguns as well as a model to safely secure rifles.
The team has also worked with the Los Angeles Police Department and law enforcement, military, and civilian gun owners. Dual:Lock will be beta testing its product with the Los Angeles Police Department this summer.
Timothy Oh was also a winner in the fall 2013 Rensselaer Change the World Challenge and won first prize of $8,000 in the Rensselaer business model competition in 2015.
Several additional Rensselaer startup teams achieved outstanding accolades at the NYBPC:
James Cazzoli ’16, mechanical engineering/design, innovation, and society; and Jordan Dunne ’16, computer science, earned second place and $5,000 in the biotechnology/health care track. Bloom is an innovation that focuses on the convenience and versatility of a credit-card sized rescue inhaler for asthmatics.
David Haggerty ’17, design, innovation, and society earned third place and $1,500 in the biotechnology/health care track. Nova is a life-saving intramuscular medication delivery system to be administered in emergency situations.
Jordan Hutensky ’18, design, innovation, and society, and Morgan Schweitzer ’16, mechanical engineering, earned second place and $5,000 in the social entrepreneurship/nonprofit track. Guide is developing tools to help the visually impaired regain their independence in the kitchen.