For years, we have emphasized how Visual Labs can be used as an all-in-one solution: a body worn camera (“BWC”), digital camera, audio recorder, personnel locator, and fully functional smartphone used for phone calls, texts, emails, and other approved applications. As the Android operating system continues to evolve, we are excited that we can now help our customers add yet another capability to their BWC phones: push-to-talk, commonly known simply as “PTT”. PTT applications are often marketed as a supplement to, or even replacement for, expensive land mobile radio (LMR) systems.
In older Android versions, the system’s microphones could only be used for one third-party application at a time. As a result, if a BWC recording was ongoing, a PTT broadcast would fail since the microphone was already in use. With recent Android versions, audio can be shared between two third-party applications. As such, a PTT broadcast will transmit as expected and the audio will be included on the BWC video recording. Furthermore, Visual Labs will be able to continue recording phone calls as part of BWC recordings or audio recordings. This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic where officers generally seek to avoid excess in-person contact, yet still want to reliably record witness or victim statements as evidence.
The use of the Visual Labs BWC solution, in conjunction with ESChat’s PTT application on a Samsung XCover PRO, has proven to be a remarkably powerful combination. The XCover PRO runs a recent version of the Android operating system, has dual rear cameras, and features two easily accessible programmable buttons. Visual Labs customers can set up this BWC/PTT combination in about 15 minutes.
“Law enforcement is our largest market segment. Our customers often ask whether it’s feasible to leverage a single smartphone device for ESChat and a body worn camera application,” said Josh Lober, President of ESChat. “We always recommend Visual Labs as our solution of choice. The applications work well together, and simultaneously provide secure PTT comms and full body cam functionality. When used in combination with an earpiece or remote speaker microphone, the applications provide a seamless and full featured LE communication platform.”
As technology continues to advance, we look forward to enhancing the Visual Labs system to take advantage of these changes and offer ever-increasing value to our customers. In contrast to proprietary hardware, our software approach lends itself to greater agility and collaboration with other applications, such as push-to-talk products.