Before cops charge headlong into a shootout, or firefighters storm a blazing building, or search and rescue teams enter a pile of rubble, it’d sure be nice for them to get a sneak peek and discover what they’re up against.
Enter the Explorer, a softball-sized device that can be tossed or rolled into the unknown to snap panoramic photos and wirelessly transmit images back to a smartphone. Developed by Boston-based startup Bounce Imaging, this clever camera ball has been in the works since 2012, and next week, the company will be shipping its first 100 Explorers to police departments nationwide.
Watch em’ in action:
Camera balls have been around for a little while now, but the Explorer, coated in a thick rubber shell for durability, is the first one designed specifically for emergency response. In addition to six lenses that peek out around the circumference for 360 degree coverage, it’s got LED lights to illuminate the scene, its own WiFi hotspot, and smart image stitching software that deals with noise and image quality issues better than most. Bounce Imaging is hoping to add radiation, carbon monoxide and temperature sensors to future models. The company says it’s also considering optioning its image processing software to drones, video games and smartphones.
Personally, I think this device would make a great gift for any kid (or adult) who’s afraid of monsters in dark corners. But I’ll admit the folks saving lives should prooobably have first dibs.
Top image: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT (photo courtesy of Bounce Imaging). Bottom image: Bounce Imaging.