Seeing around a corner or up into an attic in a tactical situation is a problem with many solutions. Some are expensive, like a pole camera, some are not so expensive, like a mirror, broomstick and chewing gum. The Attic-Clear iPhone/Smartphone Camera Pole falls on the inexpensive side of the spectrum. It's not a broomstick, but a well-made piece of tactical equipment that is well suited for the job at hand.
Tony Leonti, of California-based Micro-Times, invented the Attic-Clear for a specific purpose. He wanted to give officers a low-cost solution to the problem of clearing an attic. Leonti says that most officers already have a video camera on their smartphone, so why not use it instead of investing in a pole camera that costs several thousands of dollars?
His solution, the Attic-Clear handheld, telescoping pole, extends more than seven feet and has a padded quick-release smartphone holder and flashlight mount on the end. To use, simply mount a smartphone on the end of a pole, extend it up into an attic or other elevated area, record what is up there and view it from a safe location.
Recently POLICE Magazine tested this low-tech pole design and found that sometimes the hardest tasks can indeed be solved with the simplest solution.
The Attic-Clear unit our test team reviewed was constructed of aircraft-grade anodized aluminum, strong enough to move ceiling tiles to get a view of an attic. The unit's easy-to-use telescoping sections allowed us to set it to any length, up to 7 feet. The business end of the pole has a padded quick-release clamp that holds nearly any smartphone or even an iPad Mini. There's also a clamp-ring to hold a small flashlight and a ¼-20 tapped hole to mount photographic accessories.
We brought the Attic-Clear pole to a local tactical team to try out. The first thing that they said was that they'd rather see what's happening in real-time. That can easily be done with a Skype-type app called "Tango." With this app on the phone, officers can dial the deployed phone and watch what it sees in real-time.
The tactical officers chose to mount a GoPro Hero camera to the Attic-Clear. The camera mounted simply with the attachment that came with it. The third-generation GoPro has WiFi, so officers connected it wirelessly to an iPad to give them a clear, real-time picture of what was going on in the attic.
The conclusion? If you are on a budget and want a versatile mounting option for a small video camera like those found on a smartphone, then the Attic-Clear may be what you're looking for. It serves a narrow purpose, but offers versatile mounts so you can put just about whatever you want on the end of it. At about $200, it is worth considering.
Mark Clark is a 27-year veteran police sergeant. He has served as public information officer, training officer, and as supervisor for various detective and patrol squads.