The company Taser International (former ticker symbol: TASR), most prominently associated with electrical weapons that have become a hallmark of police gear and which carry a number of connotations, has rebranded itself. Taser International changed its name to Axon to coincide with the name of its preexisting body camera line, which includes both cloud storage and a platform for analytics, and is now trading under the ticker AAXN. Taser will also adopt the "freemium" model more common to Silicon Valley for the next year, according to Quartz, and will give away its cameras for 12 months in order to entice police departments to pay for its platform and services down the line. This marks a major shift that has some analysts speculating that data and information sales is a driving factor.

Vision of an Automated System of Police Reports

Axon CEO Rick Smith has indicated his company's hopes for an interconnected system of police reports, making use of body cameras and various cloud storage catalogs in order to analyze and share footage between investigators. Smith believes these systems could allow police the streamline the tedious paperwork process while increasing overall accountability with the public. Smith is one of many analysts and tech CEOs who believes that the future of police work will make heavy use of technological advancements. He says, "eighty percent of American cops go out on the job with a gun, but no camera. We want to accelerate the adoption of this technology."

In recent years, body cameras as well as footage taken by bystanders have played a big part in numerous high-profile incidents involving the police and the public. Smith believes that the question of body cameras is one that bridges both sides of the American political spectrum and which should see little resistance from the broader public.

Technology Advancements Center on AI

While cameras themselves continue to become more advanced, Smith's vision relies more on AI systems which could process footage that the cameras record. These systems could be used to transcribe police interviews, create timelines, testimonies, and more. Of course, there exist technological and developmental barriers to achieving these goals as well. Smith's tasks require highly specialized AI systems, and large tech companies like Google don't necessarily spend a good deal of energy and time devoted to addressing these tasks. Thus, Axon has recently acquired two AI branches to increase its own focus: Dextro, a startup, and Fossil Group's computer vision wing.

Smith's plan may run into difficulty with the question of surveillance. In an increasingly technological world, citizen groups are become more attuned to the possibility of these technologies being used for illegal surveillance, or of private data and information becoming public or being sold. Axon will no doubt have to address these concerns if it wishes to see its vision enacted on a wider scale.

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