visible assets rubee amory 20/20 2020 rfid tracking
Courtesy Visible Assets
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By John Dingell III

Lewis Machine & Tool Company was recently awarded a €22 million contract for 16,000 MARS-L compliant AR type rifles with monolithic uppers by the Estonian Defense Forces. LM&T beat out 13 other rifle manufacturers for this contract, including the techno-wizards at H&K.

The most interesting thing about the rifles selected by the EDF is a wireless tracking system which uses a novel advancement in magnetic tracking technology that’s well-suited to firearms, unlike traditional RFID tagging.

Visible Assets, Inc. has developed something called RuBee tag communication technology to assure communication with tags through metal barriers, a weakness of traditional RFID technology. RuBee uses a communication frequency less than half that of traditional RFID tag readers to facilitate communication through metal barriers and “harsh environments”.

Visible had secured a similar small contract from the US Navy back in 2010.

The upside of this weapons tracking system: it will probably be of some use to shooting ranges which rent firearms. It should be able to warn of weapons thefts like one that occurred in Mason, Michigan last year.

The downside? Gun control advocates will promote its use (mandate?) in so-called smart guns and possibly standard firearms. That’s something that hasn’t worked well with traditional RFID technology largely due to communication failures.

Here’s the press release on the contract award:

Lewis Machine & Tool and Visible Assets, Inc. Awarded a €22 Million Estonian Defense Forces Contract For 16,000 Automatic Weapons With Integrated RuBee Wireless Weapon Shot Counters.
Visible Assets, Inc., a Defense/Industrial Internet of Things company was awarded, after a competitive bidding process, a contract with partner Lewis Machine & Tool for 16,000 Weapon Shot Counters, UID Tracking, and Security wireless RuBee tags over two years from the Estonian Defense Forces.
Visible Assets, Inc. (Visible) Stratham, NH announced today that Visible and Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) have been selected to supply the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) with an initial 16,000 automatic weapons between 2019 and 2021. These weapons all have integrated RuBee wireless Weapon Shot Counter (WSC) tags. The contract also includes Visible handheld Javelin readers plus “Allegro 20/20” analytics and weapon maintenance software. Optional “Armory 20/20” software provides automatic wireless weapon audits by reading the WSC tags. An additional optional 9,000 weapons with integrated WSC tags may be supplied over 2021 and 2026 for a total of 25,000 units. The combination of the LMT automatic firearm and RuBee wireless Weapon Shot Counter tags offer many unique advantages over other WSC weapon systems:
Visible Assets 20/20 armory smart gun
Courtesy Visible Assets

“Estonia is known as one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, and we are thrilled that RuBee wireless technology has been selected as a countrywide WSC and wireless UID tag solution on the LMT weapon. We have many Armory and WSC government customers who have set a high bar for weapon maintenance and weapon security and determined that RF-based systems are simply not acceptable.” said John Stevens CEO. of Visible “RuBee wireless magnetics has consistently met the most critical customer requirement of 100% accurate audit read rates, 99.9% exit-entry detection, even in high steel content environments and high EMI noise environments where RFID based systems have challenges. Visible strives to deliver, maximum functionality, reliability, and value for our defense customers at the best possible price. It was gratifying to learn that not only did we win this tender based on performance and our unique features, but also when combined with the high-quality LMT weapon we were the lowest priced bidder.”

The tender was issued in June 2017. Fourteen firearms manufacturers submitted proposals, nine prequalified for the procurement and five were rejected. By the January 2018 deadline, four manufacturers were invited to make firm fixed final bids. LMT was initially notified it won the tender in December 2018. Over the next four months, three unsuccessful award challenges were attempted by a competitor and the final LMT award was revalidated on May 13, 2019 by the Tallinn Administrative Court.

Courtesy Visible Assets

“This was a highly competitive tender, with a very sophisticated technical buyer and advanced bidding score system.” Said Karl Lewis CEO of LMT. “In the review of the proposals, the outcome of a shooting test made up 10% of the overall score, the guaranteed number of shots throughout the weapon’s life cycle 20%, length of the useful life of the weapon 30%, and the price 40%. With the Visible WSC and live-fire performance of our weapon and aggressive pricing, we had an overall performance score of 99.3. We are excited to be selected as the supplier of the EDF service weapon, we are committed to making high-quality weapons for our NATO partners and worldwide customers.”

About LMT Defense and the MARS Platform

These weapons utilize the LMT Defense monolithic upper on the MARS rifle system. The MARS was developed in 2014 and was initially delivered under contract to New Zealand Defence Force. The MARS weapons platform is a completely ambidextrous rifle system including ambidextrous bolt catch, bolt release, safety selector, magazine release and charging handle. Lewis Machine & Tool manufactures and supplies firearms primarily to the US military and other armed structures, including SAS special forces unit of the British army and the army of New Zealand.

About Visible Assets, Inc.

Visible Assets, Inc. is a privately held US technology company based in Stratham, New Hampshire. Visible Assets designs manufacture and support RuBee wireless real-time asset visibility solutions and networks based on the IEEE 1902.1 standard. Visible Assets provides integrated visibility solutions for a variety of markets though RuBee application partners such as Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd, and Lockheed Martin. RuBee Visibility Networks are installed and working in over 1,800 commercial and government sites. Visible Assets, Inc. has an active RuBee licensing program.

This kind of technology is a potential threat to the privacy of firearms ownership and use, wether in a “smart gun” or as part of traditional firearms. This RuBee tag reading technology bears watching.

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  1. I don’t think I like this. It appears to me there is a tremendous opportunity for abuse by the government from their wacky gun control zealots.

    • As many guns go missing from military and police armories, I have no issue with this being used in that arena. It would let them know when arms go missing, even if the idea that they can track missing arms this was is silly (unless then really build the tag in so that one would need to destroy the gun to remove or disable the tag; that seems unlikely).

      • I would agree about tracking military and government firearms. Trying to track 350,000,000 civilian firearms with this system would take billions of dollars for a nationwide system and billions of dollars a year for a bureaucracy to operate the system.

      • There are some scenarios where we want arms to go missing from government armories. This should be a no go on those weapons.

  2. Even if it were mandated for civilians a screwdriver removes the grip and it’s a non-issue. Or replace the lower.

    • For criminals, at least. For anyone else, I’m guessing a missed signal check will get you a visit from ATF.

      • Does the signal work form the bottom of a lake ? Cuz I could easily have a tragic boating accident and when the ATF attacks my fire arm they will see the tracker at the bottom of the lake this verifying my story.

        • If it’s IP rating is 67, you don’t need the “Bottom of a Lake”! Thirty Minutes in 3 feet of water is all that required with a IP67 rating, or a Good Sand Blasting…

  3. Having a GPS or even cellular tracker embedded in the buttstock of rifles would be invaluable for recovering if stolen, but it should never ever ever be required. The owner of the weapon should get to decide if they want to buy the after market accessory and have the information / connection to cellular towers be encrypted with a reputable algorithm. Only the owner or trustees should have access to the information and location data.

    Of course, reality isn’t so simple, and the little shit tracker will probably also report back to its manufacture, although its easy enough to find out which ones phone home and which ones don’t. Buy accordingly.

    I may actually do something like this, embed a GPS tracker inside the handguard or buttstock of one or two rifles that never leave the safe.

  4. US Patent Number US20110252684A1 Wireless Weapons Shot Counters operate a frequencies of between 400hz and 800hz. Buy a Wearable Jammer, or buy a Firearm not already retrofitted with it. It’s only a matter of time, where the miniaturization of WWSC’s become available to ammunition too. If it hasn’t already been done…

  5. Oh Great Spirit Lord of Meteors, send us Your cleansing rocks. Wipe the heavens free of the humans satellites as Charmin wipes the dingleberries from my ass. Amen

    • “Oh Great Spirit Lord of Meteors, send us Your cleansing rocks.”

      ‘Giant Meteor 2020 – Why vote for the lessor of catastrophes?’

    • “Oh Great Spirit Lord of Meteors, send us Your cleansing rocks.”

      Luv it. I might have to use that one myself sometime. 🙂

  6. “If you give a mouse a cookie”……
    I can see it now……… All firearms manufactured after Jan 1 2020 must have this device installed; felony for removal or tampering.
    One year later……All privately owned firearms must be equipped with tracking device.
    Any guns found without one will be confiscated, fine and/or jail.

  7. If this becomes a legal requirement, gangs will hack this type of RFID, and roll through neighborhoods scanning for houses with guns. The result will be theft of guns, and of course the thieves will remove the RFIDs… because they are criminals.

    • Or look for homes without guns for easy targets. Any way you look at it, a bad idea. I read something about burglars already scanning for active alarm systems in rich neighborhoods, but can not find now.

    • Or the rabid anti-gun groups provide the tech to gangs. Sounds far fetched?

      The Australian Greens party have been providing unlocked MS Access versions of the NSW Firearms Registry database for years.

    • Just like I do vehicle GPS. Get out the 500 volt d c insulation tester, connect to antennae, induce the 500 volts and leave it in place cause it’s fried.

  8. How many years has government (all of them) been demanding an internet “kill switch”? Why not a firearm “kill switch”? (not to be confused with the manual “kill switch” that is an integral part of firearms). Why not government control, via electronic devices, over when firearms may be configured to fire?

    Keep telling ya, governments do not need to kick in your door. Control over firearms uses so many avenues that we can’t keep up with them all. No matter how much gun control is challenged by “gun rights” organizations, evil exists and never rests. People who want to leave others alone, and be left alone are not a serious political force. No matter how 2A friendly the SC may become, it will never declare 2A absolute. Which means “reasonable restriction” is in the eye of the leftist billionaires.

    Been wondering for quite some time, “Why are so many billionaires determined to control everything and everyone, while so few (none?) are determined to defeat centralized control of everything and everyone?”

    • For the very same reason they’re billionaires: They have an immense drive to accumulate power and status. Those who stop at merely collecting money are few and far between.

  9. yeah… Pretty sure somebody else will say this, but….

    Implement that, and all such devices will be swiftly and summarily removed from my arms. If that makes me a “criminal,” well… so be it.

    In other words… Like a lot of these so-called progressive “gun safety” measures, the people advocating for them need to get the following message Loud and Clear:

    Even IF you succeed in making such ridiculous things law, a significant portion of America will simply never (NEVER) comply. So, y’all can GFY, loosey goosey with motor oil.

    The government, state or federal, has no right to babysit my arms. And we just will not stand for it, no matter what the ignorant hysterics say. The nation is plenty safe… in no small part to our being the most heavily armed civilian populace in human history.

    Be safe. Mort (actual;AZ)

  10. For “club owned” or police weapons where military are a higher priority it may be considered. The problems are many fold though including that people will figure out how to disable them easily.

    For military absolutely not. The military doesn’t want anything that might even break radio silence I would think because they don’t want positions given away.

    Civilians would consider this the gun oriented mark of the beast for certain.

    • Exactly. RF radiation from every soldiers rifle, it’s an adversary’s wet dream. They can pinpoint every dude out there and lay down surface-surface or air-surface fires well before those rifles get in range of you.

  11. Just a thought – couldn’t any system that allows a military to track their own rifles conceivably be used by the enemy to detect those rifles too? Seems like it could be a potential way to give away your guys’ position?

  12. Yeah, put it on hundreds of millions of guns and watch some morons try to track all of it. But, since the government in this country is prohibited from having lists of who owns what it doesn’t make much sense. Whatever man can put on, man can take off.

    • I suspect that’s why Hundreds of Millions of Dollars are being spent for A.I. R&D. To develop a Thinking Brain to keep tabs on US Mr and Mr. John Q. Public…

  13. ENOUGH WITH THE TRACKING CRAP!!! Cars, face recognition, camera’s, SIRI, etc.,etc. Getting so I can’t take dump without some govt. asshole counting the turds and how many squares of tp I use to wipe my ass.

    • I hear you on that . One reason I maintain diarrhea and don’t use toilet paper . Ha fooled em again

  14. Ok, I can see the use for an armorer or someone who wants certain info displayed on a HUD.

    Putting this on the civvies market is just dumb. If the weapon is discoverable in the way they suggest then yes, it can be tracked, but it can also be fucked with across a wireless connection.

    The first thing that will happen is people will buy them just to play around with it. They will find security holes and exploits. Then God knows what they’ll do. I mean, I know the first thing I’d do is start screwing with the shot counter to crash the readers just to see what they can handle.

    I would bet they set that variable as an integer which means, since it’s 32bit, I’d start by forcing that value to change to 2,147,483,647+1 or -2,147,483,648-1 just to see what happens. And if that variable is stored in 32 bit as they say… the system isn’t going to like those values. Even if they made the var a long 64bit value I’m sure we can find a number large enough or small enough to cause errors.

  15. The limitation to this technology is that it requires a power source. I really don’t see how they could enforce changing the battery; the smoke alarm police would be overbooked.

    • It seems to me that virtually every battery operated device on the market today is Induction Charging. Which probably means, even the smallest charge can recharge a Battery. My wristwatch has Induction Charging from the Temperature of my Skin…

      • That Matrix Watch sounds cool, but it charges using thermoelectric charging (and solar), not induction.

        Induction charging is when a magnetic field is changed to “induce” a charge inside the device being charged. Like sonicare toothbrushs, apple watch charging stations, and literally every cellphone Qi charger.

        Charging by temperature differential is thermoelectric charging. These don’t need any external power source, they just need to be between something warm (your wrist) and something cool (the air around you). This style of charging is not super efficient, but works for the fan on your wood stove, the campfire phone charger, and your Matrix Watch. Look up “peltier effect.”

        Induction charging usually requires a dock be used, but you don’t need exposed pins, or to plug-in.

      • From what I have seen it uses a regular button battery. Am I wrong about this ?

        • If it’s a Mercury Zinc Battery probably yes, but companies like Totex Manufacturing can produce a Battery that is like as second skin (form fitted) and be part of your Firearm without you even noticing the deception. Think of current Medical Batteries which are So Small and unobtrusive that you don’t even notice them…

  16. Your safes are Faraday cages, all you paranoid tools. Wireless monitoring to track round count, malfunctions, cleaning break downs, even monitor your flinch & record accuracy w/ wireless interactive targets. There’s a ton of upsides, and an easily-defeated downside that’s more remote than outright repeal of the RKBA by amendment. I shouldn’t be shocked by the ignorance of my fellow gun owners at this point, but there it is.

    • Except that it’s known that RFID and HF can penetrate faraday cages at close range.

      Cell phones can work inside a faraday cage depending on the frequency they use.

      The incoming signal is attenuated far more than an outgoing signal as well.

      In short, if they get close enough they can “see through” the safe. Not to mention the fact that if they know you have a safe then they know you have a reason to have the safe so even if they can’t “see” what’s in it they’ll open it to take a look.

      Then there’s the fact that none of us actually have the “opsec” to stay off the radar if the government really wants to know. All this “Hurr durr muh VPN means they can’t track me!” nonsense is just that, nonsense. If they care enough they’ll find you and all your skeletons. Nothing you do is truly secure from the government or your service provider.

      That’s really the beautiful thing about the 2A. It’s not about preventing them from finding you, it’s giving you options for response when they do.

      • Some people will use Mylar as a Faraday Cage for protecting electronics. Keep in my=ind that Mylar won’t even stop an ~11-watt WIFI signal from a Smartphone…

        • Some of us have 1″ copper plating on all our possessions. Sure, it makes brushing your teeth a bit harder, but it’s worth it knowing I have maintained the purity of my essence.

      • That’s sure a roundabout way of agreeing with me, don’t you think?

        BTW, I’d love for cops to think they can track this stuff wirelessly; let them. Just pop out the tracer & keep that in the safe, while you do whatever you care to with the gun. Duh. Freaking out about RFID/etc is just ignorance; the downsides are alternately minor*, avoidable**, or inevitable***, so in reality there’s nothing to be so scared about. And the potential benefits (some of which I described) are very real, and potentially very significant. IIRC, there were dummies who were terrified of eForms when it was first being rolled out, as well.

        *Existing laws enforced in a slightly more efficient/less troublesome way (the problem is still the law, not the enforcement)
        **Separate the monitor from the monitoree; done.
        ***A society that’d put real-time sophisticated sensors on a privately owned object to monitor its lawful use, will already have ALL citizens chipped so their visual & cognitive data can be scanned for compliance with accepted norms. If you’ve ended up in a cyberpunk Orwellian nightmare already, your gun safe is one of the last things to worry about (the killbots will be bulletproof anyway, and the storm troopers will have reflexes & skills that far surpass normal human ability) and far down the totem-pole of root causes for arriving at that situation.

        • I’m not freaking out about anything. I’m merely pointing out that the “common” countermeasures many people discuss are basically worthless.

          If you want to effectively combat something you have to have an actual understanding of what it’s capabilities are. Simply putting a gun with this kind of tech on it in a Faraday cage won’t do that.

          If this became mandated and you wanted to fuck with them there are ways to do that but the sort of person who thinks their VPN makes them a ghost is exactly the kind of person who will buy into ineffectual ways of countering the mandate, like simply putting the gun in a safe. (Also, the NSA and other intelligence agencies love that VPN.)

          If you’re going to screw with them, make it worth it. Screw with the device itself, remove it and bury it so you look like a dumbass burying your “unfindable” guns.

          If you really want to fuck around you edit the transponder from the gun so that it fucks up their scanning device once they connect to the device. If it can count rounds then it has to have onboard memory which means concise code can be added to it and sent to the scanning device. There are opportunities to “evil twin” the devices and gain control over their device when it connects etc.

  17. I find it mostly worrisome. Sounds good for rental-ranges or issued gun tracking, however for private citizens, it’s too easy to take out (so it only hinders law abiding citizens). It also would make it possible for ANYONE to detect possible firearms without a search:

    If police use it in interactions is it a violation of the 4th?
    If my work place disallows guns, and I lock it in my car, can thieves use this to target my car?
    If I’m walking around in public, can some anti-gunner get a “gun radar” and start freaking out? Call the cops? Request of stores that I leave?
    Will thieves use this to target my house? Find my safe?
    RFID can be used to track people if you have readers all over, will I be tracked?

    This technology is a huge can of worms, and it is probably already on the way. On the bright side, I would expect that a lot of the issues that go along with its application to guns, go along with its application to nearly anything else.

    • “If police use it in interactions is it a violation of the 4th?”

      Courts have basically said the cops can use ‘sting rays’ to listen in on cell calls & track movements, but only with a warrant for the subject (IIRC they have some limited ability to also inquire about data that fits a pre-determined ‘profile’ so to speak; such as someone who frequents four locations of interest, for example). The cops can’t just ask phone companies to hand over all their data for a city, so they can comb through it & figure out what everyone does on the weekend, then base their enforcement actions on that. That’s what the ad-companies are for, lol.

      If you mean will the cops use the ‘gun detector’ to determine whether to no-knock you or greet you at the front door like a civilized person…the police keep losing court cases where they were the escalator/aggressor, but I don’t think there’s been a sweeping case reigning in no-knock brutality yet –I’m sure it’s coming, though. Also, police already do such things with carry/etc licensing systems that link to your integrated police ‘dossier’ file (it’s so nice to live in the Soviet Union, I must say)

      • “The cops can’t just ask phone companies to hand over all their data for a city…”

        The cops don’t have to do that. Phone companies already sell all that data for whole cites and individual users. The privacy your ISP or carrier provide is essentially 0.

        • Oh please! Information Brokerage Houses have been around since at least 1977. And make their Business by keeping tabs on other peoples spending habits…

  18. What about MM wave or thermal zone detection or creating 3D landscapes with wifi signals to detect people, lets not kid ourselves its the slow boil for the frog. But in its infancy its easily defeatable. Dont see anyone crying about the GPS trackers in cars or metrics being sent to insurance companies or stored in short term memory on board black-boxes in vehicles.
    Like one of the previous posters stated enough is enough cant take a crap without it being a metric somewhere, freaking smart electric meters to regulate your power use, etc, its just one more BS thing to inconvenience the citizenry. LoJack, airbags, seatbelt laws, gps, yadda yadda slow crawl toward less freedoms cuz we’re all frigging children who need gubber-mint to take care of us..
    Get yourselves some lead sheeting, X-ray gowns are good, line your safe’s, hats, groins, go nuts its not going to stop until it is.

    • Nah….Not needed. Just take the transponder to the nearest truck plaza where over-the-road truckers are parked, and affix it to one of the semis.

      Since the anti-gun people already think that a gun can operate on it’s own, they will just think that that nasty ol’ gun is on it’s way to do some nefarious deed.

      I can hear the gun trackers exclaiming, ” now where the hell is it going?”

  19. The technology would certainly be useful in locating and recovering stolen property. At least if the attempt to get it back is very quick, not many days or weeks, or even hours, later when a criminal has time to discover and destroy the tracking device.

    Problem is anti-gun people will scream that all guns should have it and constant or random checks must be performed. Making an otherwise useful invention for property protection into a threat over the civil rights of gun owners.

    The downside of this idea is too big. So, no thank you.

    • So we should oppose chambering markings on barrels because the antis want to use it for microstamping? It’s just a technology; it can be used for good or ill, and we are the ones who decide.

  20. Fine, give every soldiers’ position away to a Chinese or Russian hacker.
    Well done

    • heck, you could even make an AP mine that is designed to go off when a predetermined number of soldiers are within its radius….

      • Indeed, a whole bunch of any type of unnatural signal would be a great indicator of target presence…but why not go big? How about an air bursting or cluster munition that homes in on concentrations of these signals?

    • RuBee, is definitely some cool tech, quick google search shows NSWC Crane, had a 2010 5 yr contract with Visable Assets Inc., but no additional info after that. So who knows what DoD is currently doing with Rubee, maybe their findings are now classified? Rubee uses magnetic waves that can penetrate a gun safe. As RuBee becomes more available, countermeasures (I.e. block/jam radio tag transmission) will no doubtedly be exposed at DefCon/BlackHat. As a gun owner, EE and a person who lives in Komifornia, I’m NOT worried about Rubee.

  21. Ain’t ever gonna happen on any of my guns! Guns? What guns? I lost them all in a boating accident on Lake Michigan.

  22. A few words about the technology here.

    I’m familiar with this technology having used it in a proof of concept numerous years ago (tagged tools and an in storage box reader to try to do inventory every time the box is closed to detect tools going and coming – it didn’t work as well as we hoped for a semi-chaotic application).

    This is a fancy RFID tag that operates at specific frequencies that that tend to make it around obstacles.

    It’s not smart – it has no code – it has no memory – it has no battery – it can’t disable, monitor, or control anything.

    It is highly dependent on specific application design and tuning to get it to work reliably in specific scenarios (in spite of their marketing pitch; their model at the time was sell you tags + readers and help with designing antennas).

    It’s inventory control under very specific and controlled circumstances.

    I have a lot of privacy concerns – this isn’t at the top of my list.

    • I’m sort of curious to the argument! Is the argument that LMT is RFID Tagging for the Estonian Military, or that LMT is RFID Tagging at all…

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