- heliguy™ Lab launches UK-manufactured tactical dog camera to help police forces obtain live situational awareness and gather evidence;
- The dog camera utilises technology from the drone sector, including advanced camera and image transmission systems;
- Working in conjunction with Cumbria Constabulary, heliguy™ has built a solution tailored to canine handlers from UK police forces, including HD imaging capabilities, stable long-range video link, high endurance battery, timestamped data, and optimised integration with IT systems;
- A specially-developed Android app - available via Google Play store and authorised within police IT systems - enables officers to view live footage from the camera;
- In-house UK manufacture, supply and support available from heliguy™ Lab - lowering costs, reducing build/repair times, and streamlining communications;
- Cumbria Constabulary says the dog camera will transform firearms operations and is an important tool during active missions;
- heliguy™ can develop the dog cam for other organisations and integrate the captured data into existing IT systems;
- Following release, the dog cam has received mass media attention, featuring in national newspapers, such as the Daily Mail, and on BBC and ITV news channels.
heliguy™ Lab, the UK manufacturing division of drone specialist heliguy™, today unveils its tactical dog camera, to provide police forces with real-time situational awareness and evidence-gathering capabilities.
A Sony 8MP IMX219 camera is moulded onto an impact-resistant Trident K9 Tactical Helmet worn by the dog. Footage, captured from the animal's perspective, is instantly transmitted to a screen worn by police officers, enabling them to see what the dog ahead of them can see. Test footage is shown below.
The device features advanced camera and transmission technology from the UAS industry, providing lightweight HD camera functionality and enabling a long-range video link for enhanced signal strength and a more reliable feed.
A specially-developed and dedicated Android app - available via Google Play store and authorised within police IT systems - enables officers to view live footage from the camera.
The dog cam is a cost-effective solution compared to similar devices on the market. Many are developed overseas - resulting in higher prices and longer repair times. Instead, UK manufacture, supply and support from heliguy™ provides organisations with significant cost savings, quick build times, reduced downtime in the event of a repair, and streamlined assistance.
heliguy™ Lab worked with Cumbria Constabulary to design and build a tactical dog camera suited to the demands of UK police forces, addressing limitations found in alternative models. This involved manufacturing a solution with enhanced battery life, the addition of image timestamping, better integration with police IT systems, and a device which was tailored to the requirements of canine handlers, without redundant or unnecessary features.
PC Glenn Myerscough, a dog handler at Cumbria Constabulary, said that the tactical dog camera will transform police firearms operations and has become an important tool during active operations.
The heliguy™ tactical dog camera has been featured by major news publications and channels, including BBC News and this segment on ITV News...
...and this spread in the Daily Mail.
It also featured on BBC One's Frontline Fightback, airing on Monday, May 15, 2023. The episode is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.
heliguy™ Lab is the heliguy™ in-house additive manufacturing, product development and prototyping department, featuring a suite of industrial-grade machinery from the likes of Markforged, Formlabs and Rösler. It can work with other organisations to develop the dog cam - working on a 12-week lead time - and support will include integrating the camera data into existing IT systems.
heliguy™ Dog Cam Key Specifications
|Weight||1kg: Camera, camera housing, and Trident K9 Tactical Helmet
(helmet purchased separately)
|Materials||The helmet is made of impact-resistant nylon 12. The nylon protective lenses are interchangeable.|
|Camera||Sony 8MP IMX219|
|Battery Life||Up to 4 hours|
|Range||Up to 500m|
|Live Video Transmission||1080p|
|Video File Type||MP4|
|App||heliguy™ Dog Cam App|
Using Drone Technology To Create A Reliable Police Dog Camera
The heliguy™ dog cam has been manufactured to address specific issues for police forces, highlighted while working in conjunction with Cumbria Constabulary.
The Force required high-quality live-streamed footage, captured from the dog, to provide officers with the critical information they needed during canine deployments.
However, having trialed alternative solutions on the market, Cumbria Constabulary was met with some stumbling blocks. These included:
- High pricing of alternative dog cameras, often only available from overseas;
- Short battery life;
- Limited video transmission range;
- Hassle and timeframes of dealing with international repairs;
- Lack of solutions with timestamping;
- Limited integration with existing IT systems.
As such, Cumbria Constabulary was seeking a more domestic option, which met the bespoke requirements of UK police forces, but at a cheaper price point and with more reliable repair and service times.
heliguy™ Lab set about creating a dog camera - utilising knowledge and technology from the drone sector - which tackled these issues in the following ways:
Cumbria Constabulary required a small and light camera for the dog to wear, which also provided quality image-capture capabilities.
Utilising knowledge of the UAS industry, heliguy™ opted for the 8MP Sony IMX219 sensor - an upgraded camera board accessory, which is often used to equip UAS with lightweight camera functionality.
Tipping the scales at just 8g, the camera module offers enhanced low-light performance, image quality and colour fidelity, and is able to capture up to 1080p @ 30fps video.
It also utilises a fisheye lens, providing a useful wide-angle view of what the dogs can see.
The full camera specs are below:
|Sensor||Sony 8MP IMX219|
|Sensor Resolution||3280 x 2464 pixels|
|Sensor Image Area||3.68 x 2.76mm (4.6mm diagonal)|
|Pixel Size||1.12 µm x 1.12 µm|
|Frame Rate||1080p30, 720p60 and VGA90 video modes|
|EFL||2.5mm/ F.NO: 2.8 /View Angle: 175(D) x 155(H) x 115(V)|
|Interface||MIPI CSI-2 2-lane/4-lane|
|Board Size||25mm x 24mm|
|Weight||The camera module board weighs 8g;
The camera in its housing weighs 435g.
The camera is located in a protective housing (weighing 435g) which is moulded onto an industry-leading 3D-printed Trident K9 Tactical Helmet, from K9 Helm, which features integrated eye protection, removable ear protection, has replaceable parts, and is designed to work in harmony with the movement of the dog.
The helmet is available separately to the dog camera.
Many existing dog cam solutions rely on standardised transmission systems.
The team in the heliguy™ Lab knew that the advanced camera and video transmission technologies associated with the UAV sector could be used to create a better solution with enhanced capabilities.
heliguy™ put together a set of components that could provide a long-range video link and be easily battery powered.
By selecting a transmission system tailored for the job and from within the drone industry, heliguy™ created a system that worked more effectively - indoors and outdoors - than most existing solutions, without the need for multiple pieces of extra hardware.
As such, the camera has a transmission range of up to 500m and footage streamed back to the handler is viewable on any Android compatible smartphone.
Extended Battery Life
Cumbria Constabulary found that alternative products had weak battery life.
Through the addition of a higher capacity battery, with lower power consumption, heliguy™ created a camera to last significantly longer than the standard runtime of dog-handling operations.
The dog cam has a battery life of up to four hours.
Cumbria Constabulary wanted a system to facilitate timestamping, to aid evidence gathering activities.
Dedicated software development ensured that the footage captured by the camera was passed around the system correctly, was timestamped, and that any captured evidence was available in a format that could be uploaded to evidence management systems.
heliguy™ Lab developed a custom Android application, enabling officers to view the live footage from the dog camera.
The app is available on Google Play store, which means that heliguy™ can provide consistent updates to ensure stability and add new features in the future.
The app is also authorised within police IT systems.
Working closely with Cumbria Constabulary’s IT department, heliguy™ technicians ensured the dog cam could be accessed by the relevant officers, and that recorded footage could be easily uploaded to their evidential management system.
Existing solutions are prohibitively expensive, with many justifying the higher cost by including features that UK forces don't require.
The heliguy™ Dog Cam is purposely designed to meet the requirements of police dog handlers - providing a tailored product at a significantly better price and manufactured in the UK.
International Repairs Vs UK Manufacture and Support
Cumbria Constabulary had found that some existing products needed to be sent overseas for repair. This meant significant downtime (weeks at a time) in the operational activity of the dog cameras.
By contrast, the heliguy™ Dog Cam is designed, produced, repaired and supported from the UK. This means that downtime can be kept to an absolute minimum, and support is only ever a phone call away.
Working in conjunction with Cumbria Constabulary across multiple tests, heliguy™ created an additively-manufactured housing for the camera's components. This can be printed on-demand using heliguy™'s in-house SLS 3D printers.
Cumbria Constabulary Benefits From heliguy™ Dog Cam
Ideal for a range of missions, Cumbria Constabulary will deploy the dog camera for firearms operations, including house clearances, vehicle tactics and on-foot containments.
The device can also be used for search and rescue operations and in other situations to help law enforcement and military professionals push the boundaries of canine deployments.
Force dog handler PC Glenn Myerscough said it perfectly meets the requirements for a firearms support team and is an important tool during active operations.
"The camera is exactly what we have been looking for to move our firearms support capabilities forward," he said.
"The camera is simple to use, fits in perfectly with our IT systems, is cost-effective and with it being manufactured in the UK by heliguy™, we are provided with quick support.
"The camera allows us to work alongside our firearms officers and offers them a real-time commentary of what the dog sees ahead of the team, which is obviously a big plus. This allows our firearms officers to plan and confidently and safely move forward knowing what they are going to face."
The dog cam helmet is made of impact-resistant nylon 12, while the nylon protective lenses are interchangeable, meaning they can be swapped with sunglasses to enable mission continuity in all weather situations.
Weighing 1kg, the camera and helmet have been designed to be comfortable for the dog to wear, while providing enough support to keep the camera steady.
PC Myerscough said: "The camera is light, comfortable and mounts easily to the dog's head. The dogs really haven’t had an issue getting used to it."
The HD camera on the dog's head streams footage back to the handler, which is viewable on a 1080p screen. The camera has a range of up to 500m and a run time of up to four hours.
The video receiver is placed inside a pouch that can be mounted to the officer’s tactical MOLLE vest.
PC Myerscough said: "The footage is clear and crisp. The camera utilises a fisheye lens, which gives a wide-angle view of what the dogs sees.
"The camera is also compatible with evidence.com, which is the system Cumbria Constabulary uses to securely store the footage."
heliguy™ Lab: Driving Drone Industry Innovation
The dog camera was designed and produced by heliguy™ Lab.
This iteration of the camera is an enhanced and developed version of a prototype first produced by heliguy™ in 2020.
Ross Embleton, Lead Product Designer at heliguy™ Lab, said: "We are delighted that the dog cam will help Cumbria Constabulary in its firearms operations.
"Utilising our in-house design capabilities, we have been able to handle the build at every stage, manufacturing a solution that meets the requirements for this type of operation. Investing in industrial-grade machinery at our UK HQ means that we can increase turnaround times, provide lifetime support and innovate where necessary.
"heliguy™ has a strong track record of supporting UK blue light organisations, through drone supply, consultancy and support. The dog cam is an extension of this provision and we believe it is a powerful tool that can enhance the vital work conducted by our emergency services."
The R&D department features a suite of industrial-grade machinery to create innovative solutions for the UAS industry and inspired by the drone sector.
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