Dec. 10, 1999 New Haven, Conn. -- A group of Yale students have developed a device called Gun Guard that keeps children under age six from playing with loaded handguns, while still offering protection for gun owners.
Designed in a Yale course called "Creativity and New Product Development," Gun Guard is a Velcro band that wraps around the gun. A circuit in a box is attached to the Velcro and contains a speaker equipped with a piercing alarm. When the gun is moved a few degrees up or down, a movement switch activates the alarm, which sounds like a smoke detector. The patentable mechanism for turning off the alarm is childproof.
"The students saw an urgent need to protect children from loaded handguns," said Henry Bolanos, a lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at Yale who teaches the course. "A major feature is that Gun Guard does not disarm the gun, so it can still be used for protection."
The goal of the Yale Engineering and Applied Science course is to develop the skills for successfully creating and developing a new product. Bolanos said the team identified home protection as a major market. Many gun owners keep their guns safely locked up, but those who want to have them readily available for protection, however, tend to keep them loaded in the bedroom.
"Gun Guard protects both children and gun owners," said Roger Goldberg, one of the team members. "I'm glad this course gave us the opportunity to create a product with so much social value."
The team is continuing Gun Guard's development after the end of the semester and anticipates first sales by the summer of 2000 after obtaining financing. The selling price will be $19.95. Major companies and organizations have already expressed an interest in the Yale design.
"This device should be adopted by the public and Congress as an effective tool to protect young children from accidental death," said Bolanos, who holds patents for 100 other new products.
Reporters are invited to view a live presentation of Gun Guard to faculty and industry on Thursday, December 9 at 1 p.m., room 211 Mason Lab, 9 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven, Conn.
The presentation will demonstrate the team's knowledge of the new product development process-from identifying a customer need, creating a product and then completing the steps to putting it on the market. This includes a working prototype, a business and marketing plan and an initial patent application. Prospective investors are welcome at the presentation, said Bolanos.
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