Wolfcom Decides It Wants To Be The First US Body Cam Company To Add Facial Recognition Tech To Its Products

from the taking-one-for-the-surveillance-team dept

Axon says it won't do it. Ring, less believably, says it won't do it. Some federal agencies want everyone to do it. But here's an actual tech company willing to do it: toss facial recognition tech into its cameras.

Wolfcom, a company that makes technology for police, is pitching body cameras with live facial recognition to law enforcement groups across the United States, OneZero has learned.


Wolfcom claims to have sold body cameras to at least 1,500 police departments, universities, and federal organizations across the country. It has been developing live facial recognition for the Halo, Wolfcom’s newest body camera model, according to documents and a video obtained by OneZero through public records requests.

Opposition to facial recognition tech appears to be increasing. But Wolfcom knows its market and its purchasers -- law enforcement agencies -- aren't among those demanding moratoriums or outright bans of the tech's use in law enforcement equipment. Wolfcom would be the first company to blend body cameras and facial recognition AI, moving it ahead of all the other companies that have only discussed it.

Right now, the AI isn't actually live. The marketing video suggests it is but those testing it -- including a few law enforcement agencies -- are currently limited to uploading photos from body cameras for the company to match against its database. Or whoever's databases. It's not entirely clear what Wolfcom is using to match faces to names.

“Let’s say a police officer in Arizona two months ago had taken a photo of this guy. It would recognize that and then tell our officer, ‘Hey, you know what? This guy was in Arizona for maybe battery against a police officer,’” Lieutenant Jose Hernandez, of the Los Lunas Police Department, told OneZero. However, it’s not clear which databases the Wolfcom software would be searching or whether it would be able to access information from multiple police departments.

Everyone loves a surveillance tech company with an air of mystery about it. About the only thing Wolfcom is doing right is not promising sky high accuracy rate for its unproven product when pitching it to government agencies. That's the end of the "good" list. Agencies who have been asked to beta test the "live" facial recognition AI are being given free passes to use the software in the future, when (or if) it actually goes live.

Right now, Wolfcom's offering bears some resemblance to Clearview's: an app-based search function that taps into whatever databases the company has access to. Except in this case, even less is known about the databases Wolfcom uses or if it's using its own algorithm or simply licensing one from another purveyor.

None of these unanswered questions are preventing Wolfcom from pitching "live" facial recognition to its law enforcement user base. If it can find a way to tie this in, it will become the industry leader. And that's not necessarily a good thing, now that legislators are beginning to question the negative side effects of this technology.

Filed Under: body cameras, facial recognition, police
Companies: wolfcom

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2020 @ 7:08am

    I'm not entirely sure what the term Facial Recognition entails and I suspect that each implementation will be different, so I am at a loss as to what they mean by add facial recognition to something.

    I suspect that the camera sensor, lens, storage will require upgrade from what is presently standard issue police body cam. In addition, I wonder how they intend to perform the image search, is it local or remote? Either way there are huge problems that I doubt have been overcome. If local, the cam will need huge memory and periodic updates while if remote the cam will need huge bandwidth ... is this why they want 5G?

    Also ... it does not work.

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