Special Operations Command Picks Up New Video-Streaming Camera
Anyone with a 3G connection can easily download and upload videos with a smartphone, but maintaining a reliable video stream is a challenge for troops in places with little Internet connectivity.
“You don’t have cell networks in a lot of the places where these guys are going into,” said Ryan Anthony, who manages military and private security customers for V.I.O., a Minneapolis-based company that manufactures digital cameras. “Satellite, it’s decent but it requires some costly infrastructure and the connectivity isn’t always great, and Wi-Fi a lot of the times is just out of the question.”
V.I.O.’s newest camera, called Stream, could remedy that problem by using tactical radio systems to transfer data. “We’re streaming that video up through the soldier radio’s pipe, and that’s essentially how we get the streaming video connection established,” Anthony said.
Older tactical radios may not have adequate bandwidth to stream video, but most new systems are advanced enough to do so, he said. A connection speed of at least 1 to 2 megabits a second is needed to transmit standard definition video.
Stream is a wireless, ruggedized high-definition camera that weighs less than 3 ounces and is about 3 inches long. Its battery will power the camera for about four hours before needing to be recharged.
The camera is small enough to be mounted on an individual’s helmet, shoulder or weapon, Anthony said.
“You can have a remote expert watching the video, analyzing it and providing feedback to that soldier in real time” or use the footage for after-action reviews, he said. This not only allows users to receive feedback instantaneously, it eliminates the time the user would spend manually uploading video to a computer.
The company has already sold individual units to Special Operations Command, but large-volume sales to defense contractors offer an even better opportunity to infiltrate the military market, Anthony said. V.I.O. is currently working with defense companies in the hopes of integrating the Stream camera with radio systems, robots, unmanned aerial systems, armored vehicles and security software.