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Axon network
Axon’s network provides law enforcement officers a more efficient, straightforward and secure process for storing, managing, and sharing digital evidence. (Axon Photo)

Axon, the Seattle maker of a cloud-based network and body cameras for law enforcement agencies, is adding artificial intelligence to its arsenal of tools to improve public safety.

Taser International, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based parent company of Axon, announced Thursday that it was making two acquisitions in order to launch a new group called “Axon AI.” Seattle — and Axon’s much-celebrated office — will be the epicenter for a team of nearly 20 researchers and engineers working for the group.

Taser acquired Dextro Inc., a computer vision and deep-learning system that makes the visual contents in a video searchable in real time. According to a Taser news release, the technology will give law enforcement “the ability to quickly isolate and analyze the most important seconds of footage from massive amounts of video data.”

The second acquisition was a computer vision team from Fossil Group Inc., which includes machine-vision researchers working on improving the accuracy, efficiency and speed of processing images and video.

The acquisitions will bolster Axon’s existing digital evidence management system, which connects more than half of the nation’s major city police agencies, including the Seattle Police Department, which settled on an Axon contract in November.

Dextro website
Video items are identified as they move across the screen on the Dextro website. (Dextro screen grab)

“Investments in artificial intelligence will have a transformative impact on Axon products by making workflows smarter including deep data analysis on the more than 5.2 petabytes of customer data hosted across the Axon Network,” the news release stated.

Taser co-founder and CEO Rick Smith is bullish on the potential for AI to transform police work and other applications related to the vast amount of video data.

“We believe it’s time for video data to move to the center of public safety records systems, with far richer and more transparent information than historic text-only systems,” Smith said in a statement. “Axon AI is focused on extracting usable information from these video records, automatically populating our new [records management system]. AI will significantly streamline these business processes so officers can focus on what matters: their operational environment.

“Axon AI will also greatly reduce the time spent preparing videos for public information requests or court submission,” Smith added. “This will lay the foundation for a future system where records are seamlessly recorded by sensors rather than arduously written by police officers overburdened by paperwork.”

Axon’s current Seattle headcount is 110 employees with plans to add 80 or more in 2017. GeekWire has reported previously on the company’s recruiting tactics — by land and by water — as it looks to lure folks attracted to its mission to “Protect Life. Protect Truth.”

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