If criminals know every police officer is wearing a camera, they may think twice about their next move.
David R. Rico/Demotix/Corbis
This week, our tech slideshow is all about the Mobile World Congress, the consumer electronics show that takes place in Barcelona each year. Innovative smartphones, wearable computers and Internet-connected cars are among some of the technologies that were on display. Here are some of our favorites.
The Mirama smart glasses, fromJapan-based Brilliant Service
, have a gesture recognition system combined with augmented reality technology. The wearer uses her hands to interact with virtual objects seen in the glasses. Brilliant service wants their smart glasses to one day replace for smartphones.
For its unique aluminum unibody design, the HTC ONE was awarded this year's "Smartphone of the Year."
Walldorf, Germany-based SAP is working with the German national football team to prepare for the World Cup in 2014, and take soccer to the next level. The ball has embedded sensors and electronics that capture and analyze a wealth of data in real time, including spatial analysis of player movements.
Blackphone is the world's first smartphone that places security back into the hands of the user. The $629 phone, which comes unlocked, was developed in a partnership between Silent Circle and Geeksphone. Along with the PrivatOS, built on Android, the phone comes with a suite of Silent Circle apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contacts; anonymous search, private browsing and VPN from Disconnect. SpiderOak provides a secure cloud file storage and the Blackphone ships with a remote-wipe and device recovery tool.
JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images
LG was on hand to promote its new G Flex, which has a 6.0” curved OLED screen, that while not flexible, does have a shape that fits well into the palm of a hand. The big screen provides an impressive panoramic view, while minimizing glare.
LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Samsung's Galaxy Fit was among many wearable fitness devices on display at the Mobile World Congress. The Fit has a thin, curved shape meant to follow the wrist; the user navigates menus by swiping horizontally. Along with a heart monitor, the Fit is designed to provide notifications for calls, e-mail and text message. A personal fitness coaching app is an option.
One of the most surprising announcements at the Mobile World Congress came from Mozilla, who plans to launch seven new devices using Firefox OS, including a smartphone -- the ZTE Open C -- priced at $25. The devices are being aimed at people in developing countries.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
Chinese company Gionee presented its Elife 5.5, the world's thinnest smartphone. At 5.5 millimeters thick, the phone edges out the 5.75mm Vivo X3. For comparison, the iPhone 5s is 7.6mm thick.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
The new Xperia Z2 phone and tablet from Sony are waterproof, come with brighter screens and noise-canceling earbuds.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
Sony's SmartBand SWR10 is also waterproof, which makes sense if you plan to sweat while wearing them.
Practically speaking, cars are becoming gadgets. Ford was among several automakers displaying their versions of fully connected Internet cars. These cars work in conjunction with a person's smartphone or work like a smartphone to run apps that connect to the Internet, play music and movies, display GPS navigation and control security features at home, among many other features.
Should local police wear and use a body camera at all times?
That’s the debate many police departments are having after riots broke out in Baltimore in April. Last year, unrest in Ferguson led to continuing racial tensions. Yet, for one company, a camera pointed toward a criminal is also a protective measure for the public at large.
BodyWorn by Utility is a new device currently being tested by police departments in private trials in the U.S. The device — a Motorola Moto X phone-running video recording software that ties into a police department back-end server — is integrated into an officer’s protective vest. (It’s a magnetic locking compartment that is not affected by pulling or jostling.) Neither criminals nor police officers can remove the camera to potentially destroy evidence.
In fact, criminals may not even notice the camera. The video streams to a server in the cloud when the officer starts running (thanks to an accelerometer that detects motion).
If an officer arrives on a scene, turns on the lights and sirens, and then opens the door, the camera will start recording immediately. Those at the police station can also start a recording.
It’s a crime deterrent because the cameras can collect evidence automatically, something that will make criminals think twice. Last year, the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology found that body-worn cameras can reduce crime by 50 percent.
A police force in Mesa, Ariz., conducted a similar study and found that complaints against the police went down for officers who wore the camera — by about two-thirds compared to those without a camera.
Robert McKeeman, the CEO of the company behind the BodyWorn camera, explained to FoxNews.com that local citizens know they are being recorded. The software helps stations focus on patrolling and protecting instead of dealing with the demands of technology.
“We have real-time communication through GPS, so the police stations know where the officer is at all times,” McKeeman said. “If he goes off on a chase, they know where he is. If he goes completely out of contact, they know where he is. They can even determine if he is lying horizontal instead of vertical and issue an emergency response.”
The BodyWorn replaces older wearable cameras that work like a GoPro. These cameras require that the officer presses record before an incident occurs, which is not always possible.
When officers use the BodyWorn camera, police stations can tag recorded videos with the incident number, location, badge number, squad car number, and other data. During patrols, the stations can designate an area for recording and even view a “breadcrumb” of recorded activity from multiple cameras leading up to a specific altercation.
As you can imagine, not everyone is thrilled with police being able to record crimes. Vincent Hill, an author who is a former police officer, told FoxNews.com that the cameras could force officers into a constant posture of law enforcement.
“The idea of a camera which will turn on anytime a police officer steps out of the patrol car essentially takes away the human aspect of the police officer,” he said. That being said, the videos could be used to show where officers acted inappropriately, he added.
Gerald Friedland, director at the International Computer Science Institute, which is affiliated with University of California in Berkely, told FoxNews.com that body-worn police cams could help citizens who have complaints against police due to excessive force. Yet, he said that the cameras can record all activity near a scene, which is a privacy concern.
McKeeman said that BodyWorn can automatically block out people in a video. He added that the benefits of using the cameras as a deterrent outweigh the privacy concerns, and that most police departments have found that local citizens agree. Ever-present video recordings are becoming a fact of life. For police forces, it could also be a way to save lives and reduce crime.
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