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Sci-Tech

This hack let someone fire a gun by raising his eyebrow

It isn't telekinesis.

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Michael Phillips preparing to fire a gun by raising his eyebrow.

Screenshot by Marrian Zhou/CNET

One Saturday in late June, Michael Phillips fired a hadgun. He used an eyebrow to pull the trigger. 

The feat of marksmanship came thanks to a hack that brought together a Glock 17, a sensor and a specially rigged mount, Motherboard reported Thursday. The hack helped Phillips, 37, overcome spinal muscular atrophy, a severe condition that he's lived with since birth, and accomplish a goal he'd set for himself.

The rig was put together by ATMakers.org, a small group of hackers who focus on assistive technology. The organization said in a blog post that its engineers had been developing the shooting setup over the past four years.

Bill Binko, the founder of ATMakers.org, said in a video that he had seen a list of activities Phillips wanted to do and figured he could help.

"ATMakers is not in the gun business," Binko said, adding but "I thought I can help him do that."

Phillips' blog has a list of things to do that includes"Firing a gun with a switch."

In recent years, assistive technology has expanded the range of activities for people with disabilities.

The ATMakers team used a shooting mount made by Ransom International to hold an off-the-shelf Glock, Binko said in the video. Phillips viewed the target and the handgun's sights by looking at a laptop display. The sensor, attached to Phillips' forehead, allowed him to move a mouse using his eyebrow and to push the switch for the trigger by clicking on the computer screen.

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The view from Phillips' laptop.

Screenshot by Marrian Zhou/CNET

"Mike never gives up, there's always something else he wants to do," Phillips' mother said in the ATMakers' video. "As long as he has that bucket list and as long as that's something I can help him with, we're going to do it."

Others have tinkered with remote-controlled firearms, though not necessarily for people with disabilities. Artist Alexander Reben, for instance, used a Google Home smart speaker and a TP-Link smart outlet to remotely pull the trigger on a CO2-powered pellet gun. And, of course, there are those homemade gun-firing drones.