It's hard not to think of movies when you hear inventor Dave Brown describe his new law enforcement less-lethal weapon called The BodyGuard.
It's not because Brown has a background as a motion picture camera operator. And it's not because one of the principal backers of Brown's company, ArmStar, is actor Kevin Costner. The reason that it's hard not to think of movies when you hear Dave Brown describe his invention is that it sounds like something out of "Robocop" or "Iron Man."
The BodyGuard is first and foremost an electronic control device (ECD). As envisioned in the current prototype, the device is slipped over the wearer's forearm with the wearer's hand in a glove that is fitted with a pressure switch. When the wearer triggers the switch by squeezing his or her hand, electrodes on The BodyGuard arc and so does the hot bar imbedded in the shield of the arm guard. Brown says his goal is to make the weapon so intimidating that it prevents escalation and saves officers and suspects from further violence.
Brown was originally inspired to develop The BodyGuard out of concern about wild animal attacks around his Southern California home. An avid hiker himself, Brown was distressed when he learned that two hikers had been mauled by cougars-one fatally-on one of his favorite trails. To protect himself against such animal attacks, Brown started inventing The BodyGuard.
That was seven years ago, and it wasn't long before Brown realized that The BodyGuard would be even more useful against two-legged animals, which changed everything.
Brown started to reimagine his new less-lethal weapon as a tool for the military, law enforcement, and corrections. He also patented the device and began to expand its capabilities.
Brown, his investors, and his engineering team now see The BodyGuard as a modular system that can be adapted to meet the needs of specific agencies. The basic BodyGuard includes a high-impact plastic arm shield, an ECD, and a high-powered LED flashlight. Brown says more advanced versions of The BodyGuard can include a still camera, a video camera, a radio, a laser pointer, a communications device that will allow the wearer to both transmit and receive live video, automated license plate readers, and perhaps a heart rate monitor that will alert dispatch that the officer is in distress.
"You can go as futuristic as you want," Brown explains. "The Department of Defense is looking at The BodyGuard as a platform for providing soldiers with new technologies that I can't even tell you about." In addition to DOD, Brown says the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have also been consulted about the device.
Brown attracted partner and current president of Armstar, rocket scientist Andrew Quintero, to join the project. Quintero says ArmStar is actively working on finalizing the designs for the various versions of The BodyGuard with a goal of demonstrating the device at next year's Mock Prison Riot in West Virginia. He adds that the company expects to start selling the product next year once the initial evaluations are complete. "We plan to give it to LAPD and LASD and let them beat it up, break it, and tell us what we need to change. Then we'll make the changes and go to market," he says.
Brown says he loved being a cameraman and making movies, but he says he felt a calling to develop The BodyGuard. "I think God has a role in something that's going on here," he explains. "Because I think The BodyGuard will save a lot of lives and that's part of God's plan."