TASER International has developed the TASER AXON (short for Autonomous eXtended On-Officer Network), which integrates an AV recording unit with a camera (color or IR) and microphone. The AXON can also be connected to the officers portable radio system, so all radio transmissions are recorded. TASER plans to have the unit available early next year.
The AXON sits where most officers put their handheld microphones, on their shoulders or chest, said Steve Tuttle, TASERs vice president of communications. The video camera, microphone, and radio speaker are built into a small earpiece.
Because the unit is recording at all times at low resolution, it allows for up to 60-second pre-event recording. When an event occurs, the officer taps a button and the AXON records in high resolution. The biggest benefit of the AXON is that it can show us what happened from the officers point of view, and it can do this a minute earlier than the point at which he or she decided that recording was necessary, Tuttle added.
The waterproof, ruggedized AXON is a Linux-based tactical computer about the size of a deck of cards. A 2.8-inch color LCD displays operating controls and video playback. The unit includes built-in 8 GB flash memory that can store up to 10 hours of video, plus a memory card slot.
With its playback feature, officers can surf through video and add markers for quick access. To accommodate laws in various states, the AXON can be programmed for video-only or audio-only capture. There is even a privacy mode that allows the officer to disable the unit for off-the-record conversations.
Of course, the real value of police video is in court, where it can be used as evidence. The AXON delivers secure downloads when placed into its docking station, and footage is tagged using hashing, an identification technique
that will reveal any edits.
For safety, the AXONs camera-equipped earpiece can be removed and held by hand, allowing the officer to look around corners for possible risks. While the camera snoops around, the officer can stay safely out of sight, watching the live feed on the units LCD display.
TASER is not alone in body-worn video solutions. Seattle-based VIEVU introduced the PVR-LE wearable video camera earlier this year.
Designed by three former police officers, its roughly the size and weight of a pager and features a rugged, weatherproof, hands-free design. Its only moving part is the on/off switch, which doubles the lens cover and can be easily manipulated without removing gloves.
Our primary design goal is to keep it simple, said Chris Myers, VIEVU public relations director. We do not want technology to get in the way of officers and other first responders doing their jobs. One switch that they can find under pressure, and without looking, was a top priority. We want our customers to capture the details on video without putting anyone at risk.
The PVR-LE records VGA color video at 30 fps with audio, and its 4 GB internal flash memory can store more than four hours of video. Plus, it offers secure video archiving, chain of custody documentation, and time/date stamp. ?
TASER AXON FAST FACTS
? Wearable AV recording unit with 2.8-inch LCD screen
? Earpiece contains detachable camera, earpiece speaker, and microphone
? Integrates with portable radio
? Privacy mode allows officers to temporarily disable recording
? Pre-event capture for up to 60 seconds
? Available early 2009