Panasonic Adds Video Recording System to Toughbook Laptop Line

Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, the leading provider of ruggedized portable computers in the U.S., today released the Toughbook Arbitrator, a next-generation Mobile Digital Video System combining state-of-the-art digital recording, and data-compression technologies to achieve the world's most advanced, reliable, and easiest-to-query incident documentation system.

The only pure-digital solution for law enforcement, anti-terrorism, public service, military, and private-sector agencies needing real-time recording of events and incidents for possible use in legal proceedings, evaluations, and training, the Toughbook Arbitrator's solid-state digital recording system renders obsolete competing systems dependent on unreliable and easily manipulated mechanical recording media such as video tape and computer hard drives.

"The Toughbook Arbitrator is a massive improvement over every other system available to automatically record, log, file and disseminate audio-video files from critical action sites," said Panasonic Computer Solutions president Rance Poehler. "By eliminating videotape and hard-drive recording hardware and adopting MPEG4 video-compression technology Panasonic is able to give its Mobile Digital Video System up to 32 hours of full-motion video in individual files small enough to be securely transmitted to a back-end server over wireless networks with Toughbook-worthy reliability."

Poehler also noted that the Toughbook Arbitrator's removable P2 card-powered storage system provides an ultra-high speed data transfer rate of 80Mbps and incorporates a meta-tagging capability providing virtually unlimited search options based on such diverse parameters as operator ID, vehicle ID, time, date, shift, area beat, GPS-based vehicle location, radar-system readouts, triggers and events, and manually entered bookmarks. Unlike current video systems, data history can be searched by keyword, the meta-data captured, and or category. Pursuits, suspicious persons, and surveillance are examples of keywords and categories that can be programmed enabling fast and efficient incident history searches.

"We originally conceived of the Toughbook Arbitrator as a 21st Century solution to the problem of law-enforcement and homeland security agencies trying to cope with the realities of an increasingly litigious society while working with such antiquated evidence-recording devices as stationary cameras mounted in light bars and slow, fragile, erase-prone video cassettes," Poehler said. "But our market research uncovered additional huge demand for digital video solutions from such other public agencies as transit systems, judicial districts, correctional facilities, emergency medical services, airports, and schools. Additionally, we feel strongly that aviation could greatly benefit by this technology given the heightened security awareness today."

"There has also been substantial interest shown by private-sector companies in warehousing, retailing, parking-lot management, financial services, building management and many other industries where encounters between customers, employees, and internal security departments can conceivably lead to legal actions," Poehler said.

"The evidentiary advantages of a computer-controlled system that automatically synchronizes video of an officer's encounter with a suspect to the audio output from the officer's on-body wireless microphone are obvious," Poehler noted. "Less obvious, but equally compelling, are the benefits available to the Enterprise."

A Total Package
The Toughbook Arbitrator system includes a ruggedized all-digital, vibration- and spill-resistant recorder module, a fully ruggedized 220X auto or manual zoom color cameras with built-in infrared night-vision capability, hardened flexi-mounts, True Diversity wireless microphone and a fixed in-car microphone. When used in conjunction with a Panasonic Toughbook wireless-enabled computer, a wireless communications link can download video from the system's front-end (the in-car or stationary observation post) to a back-end server.

Data from the microphones and primary camera, which in addition to its extremely wide zoom range and low-light sensitivity features a 68.4-degree wide-angle lens, backlight compensation, reflection reducing sunshade, automatic white balance and auto/manual zoom and focus controls, is simultaneously captured on Panasonic's revolutionary P2 memory cards using MPEG-4 video compression.

"MPEG-4 is hands-down the most efficient, high-quality video codec yet developed," Poehler said. "It enables us to store 16 hours of full-motion, 30-frame-per-second broadcast quality video on a 4GB P2 card and transfer the full contents of that card - all 16 hours of video - in 30 minutes over an 802.11g wireless network. A one-hour incident file can be transmitted in about two minutes."

Poehler also noted that future P2 card releases will allow for recording and in-unit storage of up to 512 hours of video without any system modifications.

Component integration is accomplished via a powerful, versatile, user-friendly, front-end application designed by Panasonic's partner, Insight Video Net. Among the available features are user-defined bookmarks, nine standard meta-data identifiers, and the ability to capture and store environmental data such as GPS location, vehicle speed, and radar gun data.

Backend integration is available via Insight Video Net's highly scalable central-management system. This cutting-edge system is the central repository for all video, audio, and meta-data collected by the Toughbook Arbitrator units. Video and audio files are easily searchable based on the meta-data collected and managed through a full-featured, client-side, graphical user interface. In addition, the system provides powerful user and group management plus comprehensive auditing and reporting features. Insight Video Net's ability to gather information from an unlimited number of vehicle and locations adds value to larger implementations and its file and user security features are the best in the industry.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Insight Video in deploying the Toughbook Arbitrator," Poehler said. "Their product is not only technologically superior to all other digital video software systems it also uses open-system architecture for easy integration with third-party software and full compatibility with MSSQL, Oracle, DB2 and other major databases."

Flexibility Plus
In addition to its technological superiority, the Toughbook Arbitrator outdoes its competition in the operational capabilities and flexibility necessary for effective security, surveillance, investigation, and risk-mitigation activities. Simultaneously able to communicate with a notebook computer installed in a vehicle or security office and a back-end server, the Toughbook Arbitrator enables the laptop user to watch live video as a screen overlay while playing or searching the media card for previous events. The system can be manually started or stopped from the computer's touchscreen or mouse, the camera, or the recorder module. For added security, the system can be triggered on - but not turned off - by the user-worn wireless microphone.

The Toughbook Arbitrator system incorporates the most comprehensive battery of activation triggers in the industry and can be programmed to automatically begin recording in response to such events as light bar activation, siren or radar use, driver-door opening, a shotgun being removed from its rack, vehicle speed, air-bag activation and wireless-microphone transmissions. Trigger data encompasses time and date information for ease of retrieval of pertinent files.

Other "must have" features include advanced usage auditing based on such criteria as video file access, log-on times and accounts, file relocation, file exports, and user-management changes; extended report generation; and sophisticated user-rights management.

Mean-Street Durability
Like all ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook products, the Toughbook Arbitrator is built to take whatever the hazards of the job dish out. In addition to a shock-resistant, anti-wear-coated, cast-magnesium case, the camera features a custom, multi-function mount that also serves as a heat sink to extend camera service life and improve operating stability.

The Toughbook Arbitrator's recording module is vibration- and spill-resistant and its proprietary P2 memory cards are engineered to withstand heat, shock and vibration. Each card can be re-written 100,000 times and safely removed and re-inserted 30,000 times without any deterioration in performance.

Robust Back Office Support
In addition to partnering with Insight Video, Panasonic has joined with IBM to ensure that the Toughbook Arbitrator will be the most reliable, technologically compatible, and highest-performance Mobile Digital Video System on the market.

"We are extremely proud that IBM has signed on as marketing partner for the Toughbook Arbitrator system," Poehler said. "With IBM providing such services as back-end server design and back-end software and hardware installation, our customers are guaranteed the ultimate in total system reliability, efficiency, and expandability."

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