Guns are three times more likely to kill someone than fire, but at schools and offices throughout the US, it’s a fire alarm that’s mandatory, not a gunshot detector.
That’s a risk for people that Jake Popper wants to change.
Popper and his cofounder Peter Street created the AmberBox, a combination fire alarm and gunshot detector.
The alarm is trained to be able to identify audio signatures of gunshots, whether it’s a hand gun or semi-automatic rifle. So far, Popper told Business Insider that it’s never had a false alarm.
However, it doesn’t just sound an alarm if it hears gunshots — after all, that could be devastating to have people rush the halls.
Instead, when several are installed throughout a building or college campus, the alarms form a mesh network. If an alarm starts to pick up the gunshot noise, it can send an instant notification to the building manager and the police about the location of the shooting based on which alarms are picking up gun shots.
From there, Popper says it can also trigger lock downs on the emergency system to keep a shooter from entering other parts of buildings or start evacuations — whatever the emergency plan is for the specific building.
Popper started AmberBox after spending the last year in the US and feeling like the number of shootings in places like night clubs and office parks was “only accelerating.”
“This is an increasing risk for businesses, and there’s no solution available,” Popper said in a pitch to investors at Y Combinator’s Demo Day.
The lack of solutions available is why he started AmberBox. Right now, each detector costs $50 a month and has seen interest from universities to financial institutions, Popper said.
The fire alarm of the future is already live in one government building in California, and it’s currently being installed throughout Santa Clara University.