Taser International, the Scottsdale-based stun gun maker, unveiled a miniature audio-video system Friday the company says will help police officers record incidents as they unfold and could help determine the truth in legal proceedings.
Called the Autonomous eXtended on-Officer Network, or AXON, the system is an extension of the company's Tasercam technology, which records audio and video of incidents when the stun guns are used.
AXON takes the technology a step further by recording events leading up to the incident, via an ear piece that contains a miniature camera, speaker and microphone. The earpiece is connected by wire to the AXON's main unit on the officer's shoulder, which stores hours of video and contains a high resolution color video display for instant review of the incident.
The system also allows officers to communicate with each other by being integrated with the officer's shoulder-mounted radio.
The system was billed as a device to help determine responsibility and accountability in confrontations between officers and crime suspects and could be helpful in litigation resulting from police incidents.
"Before we were giving you tools to manage conflict," chief executive Rick Smith told a gathering of law enforcement officers at the company's annual conference Friday. "Now we're giving you tools to manage what happens afterward."
The device is still in the prototype stage and field tests are scheduled this summer, Smith said. The system could be ready to roll out early next year, he said.
Each device will cost less than $1,000, which Smith said compares favorably with in-car video systems that cost $3,000 to $5,000. He said AXON has the advantage of being mobile and seeing what the officer sees, while static in-car systems have a limited field of view out the front windshield.
Taser could use a hot-selling new product to spark its revenue and profits.The company's stock price has declined about 70 percent since October, driven down in part by weak first-quarter earnings and a jury verdict in California that held Taser partially responsible for the death of a man stunned by police who were trying to bring him under control.
Smith said Taser is appealing the verdict, which was the first to find Taser responsible for a death due to use of a Taser stun gun.
With continuing opportunities for domestic sales, opportunities for more international sales because of the weak dollar and the potential for AXON sales, Smith said he expects accelerated revenue for the company in 2009.
Scottsdale Police Department spokesman Dave Pubins said Scottsdale officers who attended the demonstration believe there are "obvious benefits" to the system, but they declined to comment on whether the department might adopt it.