When New Zealand-based Hunter Safety Lab visited the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas last week, the company brought along their flagship invention. It is called IRIS, and the start-up company is making bold new claims that it could drastically increase hunter safety.
Founded by avid hunters Michael Scott and David Grove, Hunter Safety Lab re-visits an old idea: what if there was a device that alerted hunters to the fact that they are aiming at another sportsman? That is where the IRIS—short for Infrared Retroreflector Identification System—comes in.
The device itself looks not unlike a small flashlight. Weighing in at roughly 2.5 ounces, the IRIS can be attached to a rifle scope or shotgun barrel and runs off an AA lithium battery with a 120-hour lifespan. It is shock-resistant, water-resistant, and designed to be weatherproof. It works by projecting pulses of infrared light, and unlike most lasers mounted on a firearm, it has a wide area of coverage. This is beneficial when a pulse is blocked by an object such as a branch.
When these pulses come in contact with IRIS-detectable clothing, it reflects back and signals the device, which in turn starts flashing and audibly alerts the shooter.
For now, the IRIS’ greatest weakness is that detection is dependent upon special clothing with reflective areas that the sensor can “read,” which comes in the form of camo and blaze orange vests from Hunter Safety Lab. These vests carry a micro-prismatic reflective film that requires no battery power that Hunter Safety Lab claims to be every bit as durable as conventional hunting vests. The company also says these vests can be detectable as far as 200 yards out. The non-visible pulses also work at night or in the dark.
While buying specially-made clothing may turn some hunters off, the company is also developing standalone patches. The patches are currently designed for backpacks and sleeves, but hunters may in the future attach them to a favorite hunting jacket or pair of pants.
The company has only produced a limited run of their products so far, and as of yet has not offered the IRIS for retail sale. You can watch a video on how the system works below:
Scott and Grove also advocate the basic rules of firearm safety, and say that IRIS should not be seen as a substitute. The two hunters founded their company after seeing firsthand the trauma of a hunting incident, and believe that if IRIS finds popularity, it could enhance hunting safety.