Our latest body camera, Axon Body 3, recently launched. We continue to hear great stories from customers as it hits the streets, but we wanted to share some of our own stories from the path to launch. Today's post covers some of the breakthrough advancements in image quality. When you're done, keep scrolling for more articles with other inside peeks from the team.
It all started with a casual conversation in the spring of 2018, on a brisk day in Tampere, Finland. It went something like this:
“Sergeant Jones* said when he's reviewing body camera footage, he wants to be able to see the details in a single frame. Right now sometimes it's blurry when people are moving too fast,” said Jason Hartford, Axon's VP of DEMS & Devices, showing a couple examples on his laptop. “He wished it could be like a photograph instead.”
“That's interesting feedback,” said Juha Alakarhu, Axon's VP of Imaging and the leader of our newly-acquired Finland imaging team.
Then they went out for mustamakkara and moved on to other topics.
Jason had nearly forgotten about the exchange until a few months later, when he was once again visiting the team in Finland, and Juha said, “Come see this. I think it will help Sergeant Jones.” He proceeded to show Jason a new algorithm the team had created that shows a single video frame in vivid detail during playback, the blurriness nearly gone. Jason's mind was blown.
Juha and his team had been quietly confronting the issue of motion blur with a series of experiments and tests, recording themselves in graffiti-covered Finnish overpasses and custom-built imaging labs filled with props to help them see how the camera would record different surfaces and colors (plus a teddy bear or two). They are wizards when it comes to imaging technology, and what began as a high-level conversation about improving video quality had turned into a little bit of magic. But they weren't just making magic for magic's sake; they were careful to focus on only the most meaningful improvements for our police service customers.
You see, usually there's a trade-off between minimizing motion blur, and the camera's performance in low light conditions, when the majority of police video is recorded (about 58% is recorded when the sun isn't out, according to our analysis). Our Finland team was able to focus on what would matter most to officers: pull off a combination of great low-light performance and incredibly clear imagery, all without negatively impacting other aspects of the camera like battery life.