Target shooting practice with a difference takes place at Wellington's start-up incubator Creative HQ.
Hunter Safety Lab co-founder and chief executive Michael Scott is aiming a sensor attached to a gun sight at a black dot on the other side of the room but no-one is in danger, and that's the point.
The Iris sensor system Hunter Safety Lab has developed helps hunters identify each other at a range of 250 metres, to avoid accidental shootings.
When the sensor picks up the dot, which is a strip of military marker hunters can wear on or within the fabric of their clothes, it beeps a warning to tell the shooter another human is in the firing line.
Scott and his business partner Dave Grove are both keen hunters by passion and industrial designers by trade. The idea for the company came to Scott while on a hunting trip when he realised he couldn't spot his companions, who were hiding from a nearby deer. He thought how easy it could have been for an accident to happen.
Original prototypes used high-frequency radio waves and a transmitter beacon, but that proved difficult to develop because it would have relied on battery operation. Being a product designer rather than technically talented, Scott talked to optical scientists at the MacDiarmid Institute, who suggested looking at infrared light beacons instead.
Hunter Safety Lab has patented its system of sensors attached to guns and beacons, which are worn on or within the fabric of a hunter's clothing, after Scott took the concept to Industrial Research Ltd for further development.
"Now we have a whole bunch of technical contractors, mainly in the South Island actually, in electronics and product design and optical design, who are translating the prototype into something fully optimised."
He hopes to start retailing in the United States where there are around 20 million active hunters for the fall season next year in August, with a goal of selling a minimum of 20,000 units within the next five years. The New Zealand market is only around 40,000 hunters, and there are a further 8 million in Europe.
Scott has had American hunting equipment supply company Cabela's express strong interest in stocking it.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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