According to financial website MarketWatch, the worldwide market for body worn cameras is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2023. Axis Communications, the newest player to enter the arena, plans to capture the lion’s share of that market by building on its innovative leadership in video surveillance technology. A recent interview with Fredrik Andersson, Axis Communications Global Product Manager – New Solutions Initiative, discussed how the Axis body worn solution surpasses what is already out in the marketplace.
What motivated Axis to develop a body worn camera solution?
Fredrik Andersson: The body worn camera industry is a fast-growing market. It’s a technology that works across many industries, not just law enforcement although that has been the predominant use to date. We are seeing it employed in private security, firefighting, healthcare, journalism, military operations, even recreation. The multi-purpose nature of the technology makes it a good fit for our product line since Axis already has relationships with many of those target customers. In fact, our expansion into this product category was partially driven by requests from current customers.
What is the biggest differentiator between you and your competitors?
Andersson: We are the only truly open platform system on the market. Most existing systems are proprietary, forcing customers to rely on an end-to-end solution from a single supplier. Our system is intentionally designed to integrate with other companies’ open systems, allowing our customers to choose best of breed options that fit with their existing technology. That is part of the Axis DNA for all of our solutions.
What components make up the Axis body worn solution?
Andersson: The three main components of our Axis body worn solution are the camera, the docking station and the system controller. And then, of course, there is the mounting system. AXIS W100 Body Worn Camera can record in 720p or 1080p resolution, depending on the customer’s needs. It records at 30 frames per second and covers a 141o field of view. With features like wide dynamic range, it’s able to capture clear images even in scenes with bright sunlight and dark shadows. There is also an optional AXIS TW1200 Body Worn Mini Bullet Sensor that can easily be attached to a helmet using a Picatinny mount. The mini bullet sensor delivers the same optical performance as the body worn camera.
We offer the customers two docking station options: a single bay AXIS W700 Docking Station and an eight bay AXIS W701 Docking Station. The docking stations are used to offload the video from the camera and recharge its battery.
AXIS W800 System Controller is what makes the system highly scalable. We specifically designed it to offload evidence material from the camera quickly and reliably. Once offloaded, the system controller holds the video in temporary storage until it can be uploaded to the customer’s video management system or sent to storage in the cloud. As more cameras are added to the system, the customer simply installs additional system controllers to maintain optimal data flow. By configuring the system this way, we help customers get their cameras back into the field more quickly. The system controller also provides the mechanism for automatically updating or reconfiguring the body worn cameras while they are docked.
And finally, we are offering our customers the best possible mounting system in the industry through our partnership with Peter Jones ILG. Their Klick Fast system gives users multiple options for securely attaching the camera to various clothing, body harnesses, and helmets.
Given all the other equipment your users might be carrying, what innovations have you made to reduce the bulk and weight of your cameras and improve ease of use?
Andersson: We worked closely with actual customers to refine our designs so they could stand up to real-world use. We believe the cameras we are bringing to market have achieved that fine balance between weight, image quality, ruggedness, and battery performance. The body camera weighs about six ounces, which is lighter than a typical cellphone. The helmet camera weighs about two ounces, about the weight of chicken egg. Both cameras are rated ip67 waterproof and meet MIL-standards for drop tests and durability.
We focused on features that would make the device particularly easy to use. For instance, the intuitive user interface on the body camera can be read with a glance. The cover texture makes it easy to locate buttons. And the large front facing activation button can be quickly triggered by hitting it with a fist.
We are especially proud of the lithium-ion battery which is large enough to give our customers the performance they need but keeps the camera light enough to be wearable. Under typical use, a fully charged battery can run up to 12 hours. With special configuration, it can run up to 17 hours. We’ve also designed the system so the video can be uploading to the system controller while the battery is charging – a processes that usually takes about three hours. This ensures that the camera is ready to go out again as soon as the charging is done.
How do the Axis body camera and the helmet camera work together?
Andersson: The AXIS W100 Body Worn Camera provides the power and data storage for itself and the AXIS TW1200 Body Worn Mini Bullet Sensor. This allows us to keep the weight and size of the mini camera down so that it can be comfortably worn on a helmet or lapel. The two cameras link through a simple USB-C connector. When the mini camera is on, it streams the video from its sensor directly to the body worn camera’s onboard storage. When the user disconnects the mini camera, the body camera continues to record. An interesting feature of the USB-C connector is that you can plug it into a vehicle’s cellphone USB-C port or a normal power bank – and recharge the camera’s battery as it’s recording.
Depending on the amount of activity in the scene, a body worn camera recording at 1080p can store about 12 hours of video. At 720p resolution, that number can go as high as 30 hours of video, which can be invaluable in situations like an extended stakeout.
What are some of the other features built into the Axis body worn camera solution?
Andersson: When you take the body worn camera out of its docking station, it automatically turns on and starts recording into what we call a pre-buffer. Once you hit the camera’s activation button to begin taping an event that you want stored in memory, the previous 90 seconds of buffering are automatically added to the recording.
We also made it simple for administrators to configure settings for groups of cameras with a few clicks instead of having to go into each camera individually. Changes and updates can be input in advance and held in the system. Then the next time the cameras dock,the new parameters automatically download.
Some of the other features built into the Axis body worn cameras include Bluetooth Low Energy 4.1, location data, a six-axis gyro and accelerometer, as well as support for 802.11 wireless networks.
With the dangers of hacking and image manipulation on the rise, what is Axis doing to protect the integrity of its body camera recordings?
Andersson: In addition to the standard cybersecurity features that we embed in all of our Axis cameras, we encrypt all data in our body worn cameras to the highest government security standards. The data remains encrypted from the time it is stored in-camera through offloading to temporary storage when the camera is docked and then uploading into the video management server or cloud.
Is there anything else you would like to add about the Axis body worn camera solution?
Andersson: Because we adhere to open standards, we can make our body worn camera integration API available to our Application Development Partners so that they can build their own solutions on top of our hardware. They don’t have to detour through intermediate systems. We also don’t put any restrictions on the video, audio, and metadata we make available to them.
Another thing that differentiates us from other companies is our warranty. Other companies only warranty their body worn camera systems for a year. You can purchase an extended warranty, but the fee tends to be quite high – significantly raising the total cost of ownership. Axis, on the other hand, includes a three-year warranty in the initial purchase.
For more information about the Axis body worn camera system, check out: Axis Body Worn Solutions.