Skynet watch is a big hit


27-04-2000

A James Bond-style wristwatch, which receives live television pictures - developed by a local policeman nicknamed Q - is being snapped up by forces around the world.

Orders for the 2,000 a time units have been placed by forces in America, Germany and Britain. The state of the art technology beams pictures from a helicopter to officers on the ground, even at night.



The gadget, called Skynet, has been developed by Cambridgeshire Police's Det Con Gil Boyd, 47, the force's principal technical officer.'I built this myself because I could see there was a need for it. I designed it at home and believe it will help cut crime enormously,' said DC Boyd.



The units are already in use in Cambridgeshire, West and South Yorkshire and North and South Wales. The Philadelphia Police Department in America, German Border Police, the Metropolitan Police and the Essex force have all placed orders.



It is DC Boyd's second major invention following the video link WOLVES system which allows a miniature camera to be strapped to a police dog for use in delicate search and rescue operations. Fellow officers now jokingly refer to him as 'Q' after the character in the James Bond films.



The Skynet equipment measures 3ins by 4ins, weighs under 1lb and is strapped onto the forearm using a Velcro strap. It contains a miniaturised microwave receiver and a high quality colour Casio monitor measuring two inches square.



It is powered by three Lithium AA batteries, giving two hours of continuous use and is simple to operate with only an on/off button and a single brightness control.



Skynet can receive downlink pictures from a police helicopter at a range of over two miles. In daylight they will be colour pictures and by night thermal imagery will show up objects radiating heat, like car engines, tyres and bodies. DC Boyd, who was awarded the British Empire Medal by the Queen ten years ago for charity work, began developing the system after discovering that the technology already on the market was expensive and too bulky.



He added: 'I could see that you needed to put the information on the officer's wrist rather than on his waist where there isn't any room anymore because they are already carrying so much equipment.



'I had been looking at the possibility of buying extra portable facilities for divisions so that officers in charge of operations like demonstrations could monitor downlink pictures from the helicopter.



'But the current portable unit costs several thousands of pounds, is bulky and has to be held in two hands.



'It occurred to me that I could go one step further and develop a system for officers attending incidents being monitored by the helicopter.



'They will be able to see the helicopter pictures as well as having hands free.'



It was developed with help from Crestbyte Ltd based in Mildenhall, Suffolk, which is an approved Home Office supplier of microwave equipment. A force spokesman said: 'The quality of the pictures is excellent and it's proved extremely useful.



'We are delighted that the unit developed by one of our officers is being taken up by other forces.'