1. What is a body worn camera?
You may have heard of the term body worn camera and associated it with police use, but there are actually many uses for body worn cameras outside of policing such as the medical field, delivery services, extreme sports, or any other profession where liability is involved.
But what exactly is a body worn camera?
A body worn camera is a small camera that is wearable.
It also is distinguished by the fact that it records both audio and video.
2. What types are there?
Body worn cameras are often designed to blend it with what you typically carry with you.
They can be hidden in a USB drive, a pair of sunglasses, or a pen.
There are also specialty body worn cameras such as the Beoncam which offers an HD camera with a 360-degree view on a wristwatch.
Another type of body worn camera is Google Glass which mounts a camera on the side of a pair of specialized glasses.
3. What does it do differently than normal spy cameras?
One of the important features of a body-worn camera is their ability to be turned on or off without arousing suspicion or giving away the fact you are recording.
There are not typically any beeping sounds or flashing lights which could give away the camera.
Some body worn cameras are also meant to function under more rugged conditions without falling off or breaking.
A fun fact about most body worn cameras is that they are actually always recording.
You may think how is that possible?
A body worn camera such as those used by police is always recording the last 30 seconds.
That is why the first 30 seconds of video in body camera footage is silent, and then after 30 seconds, you see the hand press the button and audio begins.
So when a body camera is turned on, the recording actually started 30 seconds before the wearer pressed record.
Not knowing this has resulted in people saying things on camera when they thought the camera wasn’t recording.
4. How to choose a body worn camera/ what are their key features?
When choosing a body worn camera, it helps to be aware of the primary features which you’ll want to consider first.
They are battery life, storage time, resolution, field of view, time and date stamping, and the kind of object the camera is hidden in.
Another helpful question to ask yourself during the selection process is how long do I need it to record for?
Knowing if you will need a full eight hours of record time will help you choose a body worn camera with enough battery life for your particular need.
With these features in mind and knowing how long you will need it to operate will help you narrow down your options significantly.
5. Pros and cons of body worn cameras
Those who are the most ardent supporters of body worn cameras say they promote transparency and accountability.
This is especially important in professions that could involve liability, use of force, or immense responsibility such as an armored car driver.
On the other hand, some people do not react well when they discover they are being filmed.
This could be someone you must interact with as part of your job, or a drunk person you pass on the street, everyone reacts differently.
Body cameras can help improve accountability of the wearer, but they can also protect them from false allegations.
Another drawback is that witnesses may be exposed in a body worn camera video in the event of a crime.
Body worn camera footage is often circulated online and it may bring unwanted attention to those in the background if the footage goes viral.
Overall, the advantages and protections of a body worn camera are worth the potential drawbacks, especially in a legal or criminal proceeding.
6. History of body cameras
Body worn cameras first began making an appearance during the Cold War and the CIA was especially fond of developing small, wearable spy cameras.
They were often built into tiny objects like pins, chokers, or even coat buttons.
This could allow covert spying during a time far before the first cell phones.
The first modern body worn camera appeared in 2005 in the United Kingdom where they were given to police.
America also began putting body worn cameras to use in the last several decades to increase the safety and accountability of police officers and those they come in contact with.
Body worn cameras in law enforcement have become standard ever since, especially since cost has decreased with time.
7. Why do civilians need a body camera?
The reasons a law enforcement officer wears a body cam is not that different from the reasons a civilian would want to wear one.
The first reason is for safety in the event that you are attacked, robbed, or in some kind of accident.
Another common use for body worn cameras is for vloggers and YouTubers who would like to record their activities and body worn cameras are a hands-free solution.
You may also want a body camera to record your own interactions with police such as when you are pulled over.
If you are ever in an accident a body camera could also provide helpful evidence in the case or lawsuit.
8. What else are body cameras for?
Body worn cameras are becoming less expensive and smaller which is, in turn, expanding their application.
Many people have heard of the body worn camera maker GoPro.
These cameras are frequently used in sports and extreme sports such as sky diving, wingsuiting, and snowboarding.
Skateboarders, mailmen, and life bloggers are all examples of the way body worn cameras have been used.
Fishermen and hunters also make use of body worn cameras as well as secret shoppers or store security.
These are just a few examples of where body cameras may be useful, but the possibilities are really limitless.
If you are even entertaining the thought of a body worn camera, it would probably be a smart choice.