Photo courtesy of Micro-Times.
Have you ever wanted to know what dangers lurked in an attic or over a fence without exposing your head to a possible gunshot from a suspect? A simple pole from Micro-Times lets you use items you likely already own to solve this problem.
Attic Clear was developed in response to a customer request. It all began when Micro-Times owner and CEO Tony Leonti got a call from Rich Burdick, a lieutenant with the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office. He wanted a way to extend his SwatScope to reach all the way up into an attic.
Leonti, who developed and manufactures the SwatScope, told Burdick, "Optically, we can't make the SwatScope that long. It just doesn't work." However, Leonti was already working on creating a smart phone attachment for his products. The lieutenant was intrigued and said, "Wow, if you could attach an iPhone to a broom handle that would be great." So Leonti went to work creating a more sophisticated extension device that became known as the Attic Clear.
It's more high-tech than a broom handle, but still simple to use. "Put a flashlight in it, turn it on, put your smart phone in it, turn it on, set record, you're done," Leonti says. This aluminum pole uses a thumb flap mechanism like that on a tripod to adjust the length. The end you hold is padded to keep your hands comfortable. The other end has a clamp to hold a roughly one-inch-diameter flashlight to illuminate the space and a padded clamp to protect your smartphone while it's being securely held in place to record an out-of-view area.
There are two ways to utilize video with the device. If you're by yourself when using Attic Clear, you can simply activate the video recording function on your phone, position the device so you can record the desired view, and watch the recorded video after retrieving the pole to determine how to proceed.
If a partner is standing nearby when you're extending the Attic Clear into a space, you can use an app called Tango, available free in the iTunes store. It allows the other officer to view the video in real time on his or her phone while you're recording on yours. In this scenario, your partner can advise you of any danger while the Attic Clear device is extended, or even direct you to move the pole or angle the phone differently to capture better intel.
Leonti likens the Tango app to Skype. "If you're using Tango, just dial your partner's number so he or she can view the live-streaming video, and then you extend and put the Attic Clear up," he says. You can also use Tango to send the video viewing link to anyone else with a smart phone.
While many agencies currently use the SwatScope with its integrated video camera to view attics, doing so requires some form of elevation beyond the product's 22-inch length. Attic Clear can reach up to seven feet on its own. This means the officer can remain a much safer distance away while seeing into an attic or other difficult-to-reach area.
"The length of the unit has allowed me to record what was going on in a second story window, just by holding it up with my arm up and extending the pole all the way, and I'm only five-foot eleven," says Leonti. "I could even look over a 15-foot wall. There are quite a few uses."
Another advantage of Attic Clear is its price. The pole itself costs less than $200, and most officers already own a flashlight and a video-capable smart phone to attach to the device. A more traditional pole camera runs around $2,000 on the low end, Leonti says.
"I've had a number of officers tell me that the scariest thing when you do a drug bust is that guys like to go hide in the attic, and if you put your head up there you don't know if they have a gun," says Leonti. He hopes Attic Clear will help keep officers safer in these and similar situations.