Panasonic made some of the biggest news at this year's International Association of Chiefs of Police conference with the launch of a new body-worn camera system. The latest Panasonic BWC is the first public safety product from the newly formed Panasonic i-Pro Sensing Solutions Corporation of America, and it is a radically different body-worn system than the previous Panasonic BWC.
Michael Baumann, product manager for Panasonic i-Pro Sensing Solutions, says the new BWC has been in development for more than two years and the feature set for the new camera was developed based on input from the company's users and reseller partners.
"The industry is always striving for smarter feature sets that yield more functionality, performance, and ease of use. Also, product lifecycles have become much shorter across all electronics categories with the continued rapid evolution of new technologies. This new next-generation BWC takes all this into consideration, providing law enforcement and security professionals with a new benchmark for BWC performance," Baumann says.
The most prominent new feature on the next-generation Panasonic BWC is the field-swappable 12-hour battery. According to Baumann, Panasonic's BWC customers were asking the company for longer battery life. "With many officers now working 12-hour shifts, user demand for a BWC with battery capacity capable of sustaining a full shift is a high priority," he says.
It's not just the 12-hour shift problem that Panasonic is hoping to solve with the new BWC's swappable battery. It's the overtime shift. "We have heard numerous stories of officers who experienced an unexpected traffic accident, arrest, or other high-profile incident, requiring them to extend their hours beyond the battery life of their BWC," Baumann says.
He adds that not only does the swappable battery give officers the ability to keep their cameras working during extended shifts, it also gives agencies a more efficient way to charge batteries between shifts. In addition, the swappable battery may make it less costly for agencies to extend the operational life of their BWCs. "It eliminates the need to have units serviced to replace an internal battery," he explains.
Another new feature on the next generation Panasonic BWC is a more visible display. The company says this was another request from users. "In the past the BWC only offered a set of LED icons to determine their status, all within a limited space," Baumann says. "With our new LED screen, a great deal more information is available to the user on multiple screens. This opens up an unlimited menu system to perform the necessary tasks required for users to get the most out of their BWC."
Another important new feature on the next generation Panasonic BWC is its mounting system. The system incorporates the Klick Fast mount for a wide variety of secure positioning options.
The next generation BWC offers 1080p HD resolution. Users can set the camera for 720p resolution for smaller files. Additional features include built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, onboard GPS, and H.265 file compression. The new BWC has an IP67 environmental rating, meaning that it is resistant to dust and can be immersed in one meter of water for 30 minutes. It also meets the MIL-STD 810G standard.
Baumann says the new BWC fully integrates with the company's new Unified Digital Evidence management software, which offers web-based access, file sharing, and sophisticated reporting.
The new BWC from Panasonic i-Pro Sensing Solutions is expected to be available in summer 2020.