A new gadget aims to give police and emergency workers the benefits of a drone or robot camera in a simpler and cheaper form: a high-tech throwable ball.
The device, named Explorer, is classed by makers Bounce Imaging as a “tactical throwable camera.” It looks like a rubber softball, but has six recesses each housing a camera lens with a ring of LED lights.
The idea is to use it in situations where it would be dangerous to enter a building or area without knowing what’s inside, such as in a police raid or a rescue team entering a collapsed building.
Once the ball is thrown, the cameras each start taking shots. The device then pieces together the imagery to produce 360 degree imagery at a rate of one frame per second, then uses a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot to transmit the feed to a nearby iOS or Android device. The device can run for 30 minutes and uses replaceable batteries.
Explorer comes in two versions. The standard version, at $1,495, uses lights totalling 240 watts with the idea being to temporarily visually stun any suspected offenders. A tactical edition, at $2,495, has the option to use near infra-red lights in stealthier missions to minimize the chances of anyone inside a building being alerted by the ball.
Creator Francisco Aguilar originally came up with the idea as a rescue aid after the Haiti earthquake of 2010. He told IB Times that he found police were most interested in the idea and has reached a deal to sell an initial run of 100 units to police departments with plans to then refine the device after testing in the field.
He’s also looking at adding a thermometer and detectors for carbon monoxide and radiation to create a first responders model.