Published on September 16th, 2014 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Kai Kloepfer, Age 17: Invents Fingerprint Sensitive Smart Gun

BOULDER, Colo. – A 17-year-old inventor in Boulder will receive a $50,000 grant to help develop a biometric sensor designed to prevent unauthorized people from firing guns.

“I’ve been interested in technology for as long as I can remember,” Kai Kloepfer said. “After the mass shooting in the movie theater in Aurora in 2012, I started thinking about the role technology could play in preventing accidents and death related to firearms. The idea actually came to me in a dream and I have been working since then to make it a reality.”


Kloepfer’s sensor, installed on a plastic model of a Beretta Px4, uses stored fingerprints to tell which authorized user is holding a gun and to prevent unauthorized users from firing it. In tests, the sensor worked 99.99 percent of the time.

The original model cost less than $3,000.

With the $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, Kloepfer hopes to transfer the sensor to a real gun and move toward market-scale production, the foundation said.

Kloepfer’s grant comes as part of the Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge, aimed at improving firearm safety by furthering innovation around personalization features in firearms, locking devices and ammunition systems in order to reduce gun tragedies.

Last year, Kloepfer’s biometric technology placed him in a group of the top 34 out of 7 million high school students at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

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Photos courtesy of TechCrunch and MTV.

About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

  • Awesome sauce

    Wow!! that is so cool!!!! (*insert shocked awed and amazed face*)

  • Sweet. Technology is getting more and more uses for life.

  • Liam

    That’s cool. Although I bet they will be using technology like this in the future that we won’t like…:P

    Nice to see a 17 year old come up with something like this, not many do.

    • Madison W

      That’s what I was thinking, Liam… 😉
      But yes, I think it’s just awesome that this is what he was spending his free time doing (and probably more than just free time).

  • Rachel S.

    That is seriously so kool! Even though it can be used for harm, the fingerprint monitor has the potential to do good as well.

  • Isaac Kitchen

    That is really cool!! Although it is sad that it had to come to this.

    • David Barnes

      True but the Bible says that there will be “wars and rumors of wars” in the end times before Jesus’ return. So it has to happen, but it’s good that someone’s trying to develop a way to at least minimize the damage.

      • Isaac Kitchen

        That is very true.

    • Madeleine Grace

      what do you mean?

      • Isaac Kitchen

        I mean it’s sad that we can’t trust people enough to just have a gun without going on a killing spree…

        • Madeleine Grace

          yeah that is true.

  • David Barnes

    That is honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. God has blessed him with some great insight and innovation.

    • Madeleine Grace

      you said it David! 😀


  • Levi Searcy

    I can see one problem with this or i may just not understand correctly but couldn’t a “bad guy” purchase one of these guns and program his fingerprint and just use it like normal?

    • The point isn’t to disallow people from buying guns. The purpose of this invention is to prevent someone from grabbing your gun and using it against you.

      • Or prevent a child from getting into the gun safe somehow and accidentally firing it.

      • Sorelie Torres Torres

        What if you don’t have a gun and someone attacks you and you can’t defend yourself?

        • Jess jesse

          I think that might happen whether the gun had this device on it or not. But in that case I would recommend some kind of weapon if u don’t want to carry a gun ( pepper spray, stun gun, taser or knife) or martial arts. I don’t think this would restrict gun owners unless it became mandatory.

          • Sorelie Torres Torres

            Yeah I guess that’s helpful too. Thanks Jess.

    • Sorelie Torres Torres

      Good question, I mean it helps prevent just anyone from grabbing a random gun and shooting someone but what if the gun already belongs to a bad person?

      • Guest

        Don’t get me wrong I really think is a great advance in technology and if they succeed in making it a product it will help save tons of lives, but I’m just curious.

      • Perzeus

        I doubt it the police could just get a sample of “bad guy’s” fingerprint and if he holds it there would be an alarm it would be awesome if they can add that

    • Melody Brocke

      Good point. Plus, I can see where there could be situations where you need to fire a gun your unauthorized to for your own safety or the safety of others. Guns are something that should be treated with respect (ALWAYS treat it as if it’s loaded, even if you think you know it’s not), and parents with small children to young to know this should be responsible enough to keep it out of their reach.

  • Madeleine Grace

    Dang if only we all could do something so great as this!!


    • W-Aid

      I think we can all do something, if you put your heart to it, anything is possible!

      • Madeleine Grace

        That’s so true thanks for saying that W-Aid :)

  • Stephen Emrich

    WOW! I couldn’t make anything close!

  • That is crazy, I love how teens today are the ones making discoveries and helping our global community.

    • liv737johnoxide

      I love your pic. btw.

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