HOUSTON – Here's the scenario: It’s the middle of the night and the sound of the phone ringing jolts you out of bed. An Amber Alert has been issued and a child is in danger.
"The timing is very important" in order to save a child’s life, said Beth Alberts, of the Texas Center for the Missing.
What has suddenly happened is that law enforcement agencies are forced to find a needle in a haystack.
But what happens if that needle can be made bigger? The Focus H1 Dash Cam is essentially doing this, and the response from Alberts after Channel 2 Investigates showed her the technology was a quick and enthusiastic, “Wow. That's phenomenal."
Six things you should know about the Focus H1 Dash Cam, made by COBAN:
Where is it?
Currently, law enforcement vehicles within the Los Angeles Police Department and the Delaware State Police are testing the dash cam unit in a controlled environment.
How long before we see it in the Houston area?
The company told Channel 2 Investigates that it will launch pilot programs in the Houston area and beyond over the next two months, with delivery of fully operational units by the second quarter of 2018.
How many cameras are in a unit?
The unit that Channel 2 Investigates held and examined had three, but the unit can easily expand to have six, according to COBAN representatives.
Can the unit identify if a person is holding a weapon?
Not yet. But Daniel Nooner, COBAN's vice president of engineering, said the technology is on the horizon. "Teaching that there is a gun in the hand is something that can happen fairly quickly," he said. "You know, like in the next six to eight months, that is something that can definitely happen."
Does it make decisions?
Brian Chang, the mastermind behind the unit, said, “Now the way we use it is that we use this artificial intelligence to give us more information, not make decisions for us."
What about at night, in fog or in heavy rain?
CEO Doug Dickerson said the unit learns through processing information, and the technology is evolving to work in all environments.