Making firearm safety beautiful.
What if Steve Jobs had designed a firearm safety device?
Simplicity. Functionality. Beauty. The harmony among these core values are what drive people to fall in love with a well-designed product. And these values are what is lacking in the firearm safety industry today.
“ More than half of U.S. gun owners store at least one firearm without any locks or other measures to prevent its theft or use by an unauthorized person.” — L.A. Times Article (Feb 2018)
Googling “handgun safe” yields an accurate snapshot of what gun owners find when looking for a safe storage solution for their home protection handgun. These products are all black sheet metal boxes that require some type of code/key/fingerprint to open the lid and retrieve a firearm.
People who own a handgun for protection have two critical needs: (1) immediate access to their firearm for protection (2) security against unauthorized access or theft. Unfortunately, these two needs are currently mutually exclusive due to the inherent “closed box” design of a traditional firearm safe. The perception of delay involved in going through the various steps to unlock and retrieve a firearm from a closed safe (especially in the dark and under stress) is the main contributor as to why so many firearms are left unsecured.
But what if there was a solution that enabled both immediate access and security?
That is what a startup, Vara Safety, is looking to accomplish with their new firearm safety product they have been building over the last few years. Their solution, Reach, is a biometric handgun safe… that looks unlike anything like a traditional safe.
The design intent behind Reach was to create a product that was elegant, simple, and intuitive. Above all, the solution was a culmination of several years of direct interviews with over 1500 gun owners to define exactly what was needed so people would want to use a “safe storage” device. The result was interesting- the “safe storage” aspect was easy to accomplish but the hardest part was integrating in a way that “immediate access” was just as fast as an unsecured handgun on the nightstand or *gasp* under the pillow.
That is why Reach looks very similar to a holster- mimicking the user experience and speed of an action that gun owners are very familiar with. The entire process of reading/verifying a fingerprint and actuating the unlocking mechanism takes under 0.5 seconds. That makes it pretty damn competitive to how long it would take you to grab an unsecured firearm off a nightstand or closet. And to lock in the handgun, you simply push the gun firmly into the holster insert and Reach automatically locks it into place securely.
Reach uses an industry-leading fingerprint scanner to ensure that only authorized users can unlock the firearm. It holds up to 5 separate users and the sensor has been proven to be one of the most reliable and secure technology in the market.
It also comes with a charging mount, to ensure that the safe is always powered and doesn’t “run out of battery” when you really need it. But in the case of a power outage, there is an internal backup battery to keep Reach powered.
Addressing The Concerns of Gun Owners
The founder, Timothy Oh, was only 17 years old when he started a project for better firearm safety. After winning a $1000 competition at his engineering college, he decided to share his first concept with the online gun community on ar15.com where it went viral in a very negative way. Thousands of people jumped onto the thread and there were hundreds of comments completely obliterating his first barrel lock safety device- and rightfully so, that first idea had been developed with no understanding of the market.
So that summer, Timmy went to the Los Angeles Police Department and conducted research to find out what people needed and started the process of continual market feedback as he developed prototypes for his new idea. From single mothers in high-crime neighborhoods, a gun-store-owning grandma, to a police officer who pulled Timmy over for speeding, gun owners from all lifestyles and demographics gave insightful feedback on their concerns/ideas on making a perfect safety product. Reach is a product built by the community.
Reach is something new for the firearm industry. It takes the values that revolutionized so many technology industries by focusing on user experience, simplicity, beautiful design, and making things easier and intuitive.
At the center of it all, lies a mission for better safety. Timmy started this project because he believed that children deaths from firearm-related accidents was the most regrettable and heart-wrenching problem he had ever heard of. The mission of being able to prevent accidents and save lives is what gathered a community of supporters, mentors, and a team around Timmy and his startup.
Maybe it’s crazy to think that firearm safety could be made beautiful, but a guy once said:
“ the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs