The gun, which is still a prototype, is expected to look different in its production version. Today, the device is nearly 1 foot high and weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. In production, however, it is expected to fit inside a woman's purse. Bonneau also expects it to employ more than one MCU in production -- one to handle the microfluidics spray process and another to handle the video challenge.
Bonneau and colleagues focused on making the device easy to use, even for those who've never used pepper spray. "You pull the trigger half-way down, it automatically turns on and calls your security service," he told us. "And because it uses two cameras, the security people can see the reaction on your face, as well as what you're pointing at."
Ouellette, a retired Connecticut State Police lieutenant whose company teaches clients how to deal with aggressive behavior, conjured up the idea as a way of making pepper spray more effective. Even experienced policemen often use the spray incorrectly because they aren't properly trained, he explained. "If you're three feet away from someone, and you do a full burst of pepper spray to the face, nothing's going to happen. From that distance, the carrier can't evaporate, so the individual just gets a face full of yellow stuff."
Bonneau believes the device could appeal to families or to people who are untrained in the use of guns and don't want to keep one around the house. Because it essentially serves as a "smart" weapon, it eliminates the need for novices to mentally calculate the distance to the perpetrator and then to determine how long to squeeze the trigger.
"We know that pepper spray does the job, and does it non-lethally," says Bonneau. "With this, we get can get the chemical out in a form that can be quickly breathed into the lungs."