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Motorola Solutions Buys Body Cam Maker, Consolidating Market

The buyout of WatchGuard brings Motorola Solutions into some of the largest police departments in the country, simultaneously creating a potential path for facial recognition to those departments.

Motorola Solutions, a major technology provider to police agencies in the U.S., has acquired one of the most prominent body camera makers in the country.

That would be WatchGuard, which sells the Vista body camera as well as in-car cameras and cloud storage for the video captured on those devices. Motorola didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, but a federal regulatory filing suggests that the company valued the deal at a price somewhere north of $13.8 million.

The deal further consolidates the body cam market, following Axon’s buyout of Vievu last year. Since the acquisition, Axon provides body-worn cameras to 20 of the 25 largest municipal police departments in the U.S. WatchGuard serves two: Houston and Detroit.

Motorola already sold body cameras before the acquisition; however, it had yet to enter the U.S. top 25 market.

The company has been busy acquiring other companies recently. This year it has bought out Vigilant Solutions, which makes license plate-reading technology, and the emergency dispatch company Avtec.

The WatchGuard acquisition also brings AI-powered facial recognition technology closer to the country’s major police departments. One of Motorola’s subsidiaries, Avigilon, offers video analysis software that “incorporates the characteristics of a person’s face, enabling the technology to search for the same person, even if items such as their clothing change over time,” according to its website.

That puts it in contrast with Axon, which has also acquired video analysis companies but announced last month that it won’t use facial recognition. The technology has garnered increasing opposition from cities and civil rights advocates who fear that it will ramp up surveillance and lead to disproportionate use against racial minorities.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.