Next-generation wearable technologies — which may presently seem like science fiction — have the potential to enable police officers to improve situational awareness and decision making in the field.
Here are five wearable technologies soon to be or currently on the market that show promise for law enforcement officers to transmit and receive multimedia communications for improved safety and operational success.
While not yet commercially available, Google Glass has potential for police officers. Glass could be used in the field starting at a traffic stop, by arming patrol officers with a quick way to run a license and background check without having to return to his or her cruiser.
Because of its video capability, Glass also has the potential to let police commanders see crime scenes from the perspective of field officers in near-real-time, providing them with situational awareness data for better decision making and resource management. The captured Glass video can be transmitted by Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android device and streamed to commanders either nearby or at the emergency operations center. Any video captured can later be used for training purposes.
Motorola’s HC1 and Connected Officer
Motorola Solutions currently offers the HC1 headset computer, a hands-free wearable computer that can be used in harsh environments or remote locations, where access to graphical data or text is needed and using a laptop or handheld device is impractical.
It has a micro-display equivalent to that of a virtual 15-inch screen, advanced voice recognition, head gesture controls and video streaming to navigate applications or view documents and building schematics — providing users with hands-free convenience to handle multiple tasks. The company also is working on a “connected law enforcement officer of the future” system, expected to boast a set of glasses with an integrated display for access to camera feeds, so an officer potentially can see around corners without having to be exposed to an ambush.
A camera built into a speaker microphone records and then streams live video to share incident data, while environmental and bio-monitoring sensors worn on the police officer can provide information about hazardous situations.
The TASER AXON line of wearable video cameras can be mounted on police officers eyewear, ball cap, collar, helmet, epaulette, body, or simply on the dash of the cruiser. The cameras have a 12-hour battery life and are configured to record in low light.
The newest in this line of products is the AXON Body, an ultra-durable on-officer camera designed to provide 130-degree wide-angle lens video capture. The AXON Body camera clips on to the body whereas the Flex camera clips on to a host of other mounts as mentioned above. This wearable tech offers pre-event video capture. When the record button is pressed, the device automatically stores video of the preceding 30 seconds, which can help to reduce complaints and lawsuits.
The video can be stored remotely on TASER’s Evidence.com service, which enables permission-based viewing by investigators, command staff, attorneys, court officers and others as may be necessary in any given incident.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
Smartwatches are wrist-worn computers that look like a watch and truly are one of the hottest trends in consumer technology. Samsung offers the Galaxy Gear that links up with Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
The device lets users know when they receive a call, text message, or e-mail — all of which can assist with field communications. The company steps it up a notch with the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, which have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and various tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels able to measure the health of an officer.
A bonus feature is a low-resolution, two-megapixel camera on the main body, so users can point their wrist and shoot video and photos. Video can provide additional situational awareness and later be used for evidence or training purposes.
The VIEVU’s new LE3 is a secure, HD video camera designed specifically for police use. It is a lightweight, self-contained video recorder about the size of a pager that can be worn on the uniform. The wearable camera can protect the rights of officers and victims or used for training, as incidents are recorded for later viewing and shared via the company’s secure VERIPATROL cloud storage service. Departments can also choose to store video evidence locally, such as on a laptop.
Look for wearable technologies to become more prevalent in the marketplace, opening myriad opportunities for law enforcement to increase situational awareness for police officers.