Axon, provider of police body cams, is making good use of wireless sensor tech.
Sebastian Anthony (UK)
Axon, the body cam division of Taser International, has announced Signal Sidearm, a gun holster sensor that detects when a weapon has been removed from a holster and automatically prompts all nearby body cams to start recording.
The Signal Sidearm, despite its slightly confusing name and provided artwork, isn’t a pricey, complex smart weapon, but rather a sensor that can be retrofitted into “most existing firearm holsters.” The sensor is powered by a coin cell battery that lasts approximately 1.5 years. It sounds like the sensor is technologically very simple, which hopefully means it’s also very reliable.
When a weapon is drawn from the holster, the Signal Sidearm tells any Axon camera within 30 feet to start recording. If there are multiple Axon cameras present, they all start recording, providing video footage from a variety of angles.
Axon is most famous for its body-worn (or spectacles-mounted) cameras, which are worn by UK and US police, but it also sells dash cams that are used on some police vehicles. Oddly, the Axon site doesn’t mention whether the sensor will also work with British police truncheons.
Signal Sidearm joins two other “Signal” products. Signal Vehicle can be configured to broadcast a wireless “start recording!” message when the car door opens, or when the police lights or siren are activated. And the Signal Performance Power Magazine is a replacement battery pack for the Taser X2 and X26P that tells nearby cameras to start recording when the weapon is armed, and also logs the exact moment the trigger is pulled.
The whole point of the Axon Signal tech is to hopefully increase the reliability of police body-worn camera footage. If the cameras start recording at pre-defined triggers, require little manual intervention, and there is redundancy built into the system via multiple sensors—siren, car door, holster, magazine—then there’s a lower chance of an incident not being recorded.
Of course, if the sensors aren’t properly maintained or camera footage is accidentally deleted, then automatic recording tech isn’t all that useful. But hey, one step at a time.