The 9 Most Important Security Innovations Of The Year

These are the Best Of What's New

skywall 100 drone net gun

Openworks Engineering Skywall 100: The Drone Catcher

The majority of the half-million drones registered with the FAA are harmless. Then there are the flame-throwing ones that star on YouTube. The SkyWall 100 shoulder-mounted net launcher is law enforcement's best bet for grounding those malicious fliers. The gun, which uses auto-aiming software to lock onto targets up to 330 feet away, can fire three types of projectile nets: one that captures the drone, one with a parachute to lower it to the ground, and one that also jams the craft's electronics. It can nab drones flying as fast as 23 miles per hour and weighing up to 6.6 pounds (twice a DJI Phantom 4). In a recent demo for the U.S. Army, SkyWall hit targets in 10 out of 11 shots. Sorry, backyard commandos: This one’s only for professionals.Courtesy OpenWorks Engineering
k3 robot

Knightscope K3: Autonomous Robot Mall Cop

Robotic guards already patrol empty lots at night, but navigating constantly changing indoor environments is trickier. The 4.3-foot-tall K3 robot uses multiple lidars (the laser range-finders on self-driving cars) and other sensors to build live maps and find its way around shopping malls, offices, and server farms. Soon this R2D2 of building security will get facial-recognition to compare suspects to a database of people it knows. For hire from $7/hourCourtesy Knightscope
metasensor sensor 1

Metasensor's Sensor-1: Motion Sensors for Your Stuff

Most object trackers can help you find something you've already lost. The Sensor-1 lets you know when you're about to lose it. Armed with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, the quarter-size device alerts you to your gadget's slightest movement. Connected to a phone or other device via Bluetooth, the trackers can catch snooping houseguests or stop laptop thieves while you're getting a latte. $79Courtesy Metasensor
scott sight firefighter mask

Scott Safety's Scott Sight: Firefighter Super Vision

Hand-held thermal cameras have guided firefighters through smoke-filled buildings since the '90s. Scott Sight moves the camera and display into a face mask, freeing first responders' hands for more important things, like saving lives. $1,875Sam Kaplan
Roost smart smoke detector battery

Roost Smart Battery: Not Just a Battery

Downed smoke detectors lead to almost 900 fire-related deaths a year. Roost's Wi-Fi-enabled 9-volt battery will alert you when it's about to die—no more annoying chirps. Plugged into any old smoke detector, Roost sends alerts to a companion smartphone app if the alarm goes off while you're away. It can also talk to other smart-home gadgets, so it can carry out tasks like automatically unlocking the front door for firefighters. $35Sam Kaplan

Broadband Discovery's Ronin, An Eagle-Eyed Checkpoint

Last December, New Orleans Saints fans passed between pylons embedded with security scanners that work faster and are more thorough than ordinary metal detectors. Adapted from military checkpoints, Ronin uses magnetic and pulse-induction sensors, which record minute changes in a magnetic field, to spot contraband and weapons. By reducing the need for pat-downs, Ronin could make lines at public venues move up to five times faster.Broadband Discovery Systems
red ballon Universal Anti-Virus

Red Balloon Symbiote Defense, Universal Anti-Virus

The more gadgets we put online, the more backdoors we give hackers into our data. The Symbiote Defense software protects anything—from printers to cars—regardless of their operating system. The program can spot malicious activity and remove threats continually. Developed with support from DARPA and Homeland Security, Symbiote debuted on HP printers this past fall, and more devices will roll out next year.Red Balloon
sea hunter drone ship

DARPA and Office of Naval Research: Sea Hunter, The Military’s First Drone Ship

The Sea Hunter warship is probably big enough for a human crew, but it doesn't need one. It's the armed force's first ship designed to autonomously patrol the sea in search of submarines—a task too vast and tedious for even a ship full of trained human sailors. Sea Hunter's custom navigation algorithms ensure the 132-foot-long craft obeys maritime right-of-way rules to avoid collisions with other vessels. If a two-year trial is successful, the Navy might consider developing drone ships for other tasks, such as deactivating unexploded mines.DARPA
Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID, Unhackable Print Scanner

Hackers have shown they can trick common biometric scanners with faked fingerprints. The SenseID sensor makes that nearly impossible. It ultrasonically scans a fingerprint's depth, reading a detailed 3D map of every nook, cranny, and pore.Qualcomm

Read about the other Best of What's New winners from the November/December 2016 issue of Popular Science.