Meet the Company Trying to Break the Taser Monopoly

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May 21, 2018 | Originally published by Date Line: May 21 on

Digital Ally could produce first Taser competitor in more than a decade.

Last month, Digital Ally, a Kansas-based company known for its police body and dashboard cameras, announced that it had secured a patent for a new conducted electrical weapon. This marked the first time in more than a decade that a serious player in the police business showed interest in building a newer and better taser.

Ever since 2003, when one of the two companies making tasers bought out the other, there has effectively been a taser monopoly. If you’ve ever seen a police officer carrying a taser, that taser was almost certainly manufactured by the publicly traded company formerly known as Taser International, now named Axon Enterprise, Inc.

Axon’s version of the taser isn’t perfect. It uses copper wires to transmit an electrical charge, and those wires can be awkward and clumsy. And even though tasers were once marketed as “non-lethal” weapons, they’ve nonetheless played a role in more than 1,000 deaths and counting.

Instead of using wires, Digital Ally’s director of engineering, Steve Phillips, decided that radio frequencies would work better to send electricity into a target. Instead of attaching darts to wires, Digital Ally’s taser — its patented “wirelessly conducted electronic weapon” — uses compressed gas to shoot a projectile that doesn”t’t necessarily emit an electrical charge, but can do so if the shooter decides it’s necessary.