US Army testing start-up's smart-rifle system
TrackingPoint, which says its smart-rifle technology can turn any rookie shooter into a crack marksman, is having that claim tested by the U.S. military.
The Army has bought six fire control systems from the Austin, Texas-based start-up and is considering further purchases, according to Oren Schauble, TrackingPoint's chief marketing officer.
The military is testing TrackingPoint's scope and trigger-kit technology by integrating them into its XM 2010 Sniper rifles, he said.
The extraordinary accuracy comes from a Linux computer built into the scope and sensors that allow precise shooting even in unfavorable conditions. Shooters "tag" a target while looking into the scope, and the computer shows them how to position the firearm before firing.
"This can give your average marksman an extended range with less training, which I think is the real value proposition they want," Schauble said. "It saves training time and ... ammunition."
Calls and emails to the division of the military that deals with experimental weapons systems were not returned.
"With shooting there are so many variables, and we work to control them all," Schauble said. "It's really about applying science to the problem. It takes a long time to figure out and ... to master, so this technology is solving that."
Though TrackingPoint has had decent success with its $10,000-plus smart rifles—selling about 100 units of its newly launched 500 Series AR—the company now wants to apply the technology outside of the firearms category.
"We're doing this in a rifle now, but all this technology—from target tracking to image recognition— can be applied to not only hand guns or bows but to drones, phones" and other devices, Schauble said. "We are definitely not considering ourselves just a firearms company."
TrackingPoint's workforce speaks to its credibility as a tech company. More than half of its 78 employees are engineers (eight of which are software engineers) and come from places such as NASA, Motorola and Amazon.
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The company may roll out a completely different piece of hardware in as little as two years, Schauble said, adding that TrackingPoint is exploring using its technology in drones and sees opportunities in gaming.
The company, which licenses some of its shooting technology to Remington, also sees a growing opportunity to license other tech it has created, including image recognition software.
—By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.