LAS VEGAS — Taser International kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show here with the announcement of the embedded world’s version of the Odd Couple, as it unveiled a Taser stun gun holster with an on-board MP3 player.
Known as the Taser Music Player Holster (MPH), the new product combines an MP3 player with the company’s existing Taser C2, now available in leopard skin colors. The company unveiled the combo at an unusual press conference that included a voluntary “tasing” of a writhing reporter and executives dressed in leopard skin clothing.
Taser executives at the press conference said that the MP3 player and the Taser stun gun are a natural pairing, especially for consumers who need help with self defense.
“My wife doesn’t carry the C2 as much as she should, but she takes her MP3 player everywhere,” noted Rick Smith, chief executive officer of the company, which plans to announce revenues approaching $100 million in 2007.
Before deciding on the inclusion of the MP3 player, Taser executives consulted with Kathleen Baty, author of “A Girl’s Gotta Do What a Girl’s Gotta Do: The Ultimate Guide to Living Safe and Smart.” Baty strongly encouraged the idea.
“You want women to be comfortable carrying this at all times,” Baty said at the news conference. “You want them to have it in places where they might be vulnerable,” such as hiking trails and running trails, she said.
The musical holster incorporates an off-the-shelf MP3 player, a small computer with approximately 1 Gbyte of memory, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A jack with a USB converter plug connects the computer and MP3 player. Taser executives describe it as being analogous to the iPod Shuffle.
The Taser C2 is targeted at personal users, rather than law enforcement professionals. Like the well-known professional version, however, it uses a firing device with a small aluminum dart and a cable that conducts electrical current to the target. The dart is capable of penetrating clothing using a small Eagle Claw-type fish hook at its tip. Unlike professional versions, however, the C2 has a shorter range (15 feet) and different power settings. Many users of the C2 are women, the company said.
Taser International’s products have intermittently been linked to deaths, but Smith argued today that the use of a Taser is statistically less likely to cause a fatality than a pick-up basketball game.
“We want to make personal safety as routine as brushing your teeth,” Baty said. “This is about common sense and taking fear away.”