Aug 20 Digital Ally Inc has been busy
fielding a rush of enquiries from U.S. police departments this
past week about its wearable cameras, following the fatal police
shooting of an unarmed black teenager that triggered large-scale
Interest in these tiny video cameras, which can be pinned to
shirts, belts or eye-glasses, has surged as pressure mounts on
the police for a transparent investigation into the Aug. 9
shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white policeman in
A petition on the White House website calling for state,
county and local police to be required to wear a camera has
received 130,350 signatures since it was uploaded on Aug. 13.
"We have had a lot more enquiries because of the civil
unrest that is going on over in Ferguson," Digital Ally Chief
Executive Stanton Ross told Reuters.
Larger rival Taser International Inc, best known
for its stun guns, said it did not have data yet to gauge
interest in the past 10 days.
But CEO Rick Smith said he expects an increase in interest
for the company's wearable cameras over the next six months
"because of the events that are happening today."
The total addressable market for wearable video cameras is
about $500 million in North America, he estimated.
Shares of both the companies have soared since the Ferguson
incident. Up to Tuesday's close, Digital Ally's shares nearly
doubled since Aug. 8, a day before the fatal shooting. Taser
shares rose 30 percent in the same period.
Some law-enforcement agencies are already using these rugged
The San Diego police department purchased 300 body-worn
video cameras from Taser in May and signed up for a five-year
data management subscription.
"We have had very positive feedback from the officers who
are using (body cameras) in the field," Lt. Kevin Mayer,
spokesperson for the San Diego police department, said in an
Taser introduced its cameras about five years ago, but
demand has been slow so far. The devices and cloud storage
combined contributed about 12 percent to Taser's total revenue
of $37.2 million in the June quarter.
Digital Ally's wearable cameras accounted for about 9
percent of its total sales of $3.4 million in the same period.
"On-officer video is still in its infancy but appears to be
accelerating and we think that Taser is well-positioned to be a
market leader in the space," JP Morgan Securities analyst Paul
Coster said in a note to clients.
Part of the reason demand hasn't taken off is the cost.
Apart from the device itself, which sells for $399-$795,
customers need to buy cloud space to store the footage.
Some of these cameras are also tamper-proof - recorded video
cannot be edited or deleted.
Taser said it charged a U.S. police department $400,000 for
a recent 100-unit purchase including a 5-year cloud storage
The additional cost might still be worth it.
Cambridge University's study of the Rialto, California
police department's use of wearable cameras showed that
complaints against police fell drastically and civilians behaved
better when being videotaped.
Barak Ariel, a lecturer in the university's criminology
department who headed the study, said the use of body-worn
videos was a strong deterrent against suspects and officers
violating guidelines and regulations.
(Reporting by Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Feroze
Jamal and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)