After spending years developing its Intelligent Rail technology, Ashburn, VA-based T-Worx is now pursuing commercial customers.
The Pentagon in recent years has spoken of the increased need to apply advanced commercial technology to the defense sector. But T-Worx is moving the other direction, seeking to sell its product, developed through the Army Small Business Innovative Research program, to foreign security forces, commercial businesses and potentially even hunting enthusiasts.
The company’s technology, known as the Intelligent Rail, is a sealed circuit board inserted in a Picatinny Rail. Used with T-Worx’s software, battery pack and control buttons, the technology is meant to provide any weapon that uses the Picatinny or NATO rails with connectivity, power and integration. T-Worx has already outfitted it for the M4 and AR-15 weapons.
Now, T-Worx is seeking to expand the horizons of the technology, adding new advisers and seeking partnerships to enter commercial markets.
The company has brought on advisers David Buckley, an executive who has run several companies, and retired Army Gen. John Campbell, the service’s former vice chief of staff.
T-Worx is at “an inflection point,” Don McLaughlin, T-Worx’s chief executive, told Inside Defense. “We have a number of markets to address. We need the strategic guidance and direction and connections.”
Buckley told Inside Defense he sees significant opportunity for T-Worx’s technology.
“This requirement has been driven by the military,” he said. But “there really is quite a market for various segments.”
He said the company’s operating system is the key, allowing the Intelligent Rail to deliver a weapon’s information to and from network infrastructure.
T-Worx’s technology equips the weapon with a system that allows it to directly send video from the scope back to the network. Other applications can be added to the weapon and also communicate with the operating system.
The product’s development began through the Army SBIR effort in 2008. Initially focused on creating a power source, the project shifted over time.
T-Worx went through two phases of the SBIR program and brought in outside investment funds as it developed the technology, McLaughlin said. He said the technology was selected for a commercialization pilot program in 2010. In 2013, it received a SBIR enhancement award, according to McLaughlin.
He said the company also competed to serve as NATO’s standard for powered rails, eventually receiving the approval in late 2015.
Buckley said T-Worx sees significant use for the system in a variety of groups, from foreign security forces to law enforcement and homeland security as well as hunters and competitive shooters. However, the company is seeking partnerships to pursue many of these markets.
“Fundamentally, we don’t have the access” to some of these areas, he said.
McLaughlin said T-Worx is interested in finding commercial applications for other military technologies, though Intelligent Rail is the company’s “flagship.”
A spin-off into adjacencies “will be fairly simple,” he said.