The Explorer also dubbed the “throwable tactical camera” by its maker Boston-based Bounce Imaging was recently rolled out on the market. The rubber-coated sphere is equipped with six lenses that can provide precious imagery to police officers and emergency crews from hard to reach or hazardous places.
Police officers can toss the grenade-sized camera into a room to see whether people inside are armed and detect their position. The tactical sphere can be wirelessly activated from its user’s smartphone.
After activation it gathers images of the room and assembles a panoramic view which is quickly rendered on the officer’s smartphone. Several police departments currently plan to buy 100 cameras.
The invention received an award two years ago but it is the first time it reaches the market. The basic model sells for $1,500, while the “tactical” model sells for $2,500. The cheaper model only has LED lights to illuminate darker spaces, while the $2,500 model has infrared LEDs. Users can attach the cameras to a pole and obtain a panoramic view of the hard-to-reach locations.
The camera’s battery life is 30 minutes. While the Explorer is designed for law enforcement and rescue crews, there’s also a military version called “throwobot.” The latter is also equipped with cameras, can be hand tossed but it has wheels and can be remotely controlled. Moreover, the throwbot comes with an integrated microphone.
Though the Explorer cannot move around the room on its own, it is still useful to rescue workers, for example. They can throw it in inaccessible places such as collapsed buildings to learn whether there are any survivors. Police officers and SWAT teams can also replace stun grenades with the tiny tactical camera and prevent collateral victims.
A year ago, during a drug raid in Georgia a SWAT team severely injured a 19-month-old toddler after throwing a flash bang grenade which had exploded on the baby’s pillow.
The Explorer’s makers said that their camera was especially designed to prevent such accidents from happening. The sphere takes several pictures from all its lenses every second. Then, it transmits the photos to a smartphone or tablet and glues them together into panoramic displays. The team intends to improve the camera and add sensors for radiation and carbon monoxide among others.
The company hopes that their first clients would be fully satisfied with the model so that they would recommend it to other departments as well. BBC and Time named the Explorer the best invention of 2012.
Its developers came up with the idea after the 2010 Haiti earthquake because rescue workers reported that they encountered many difficulties in finding victims trapped in the rubble although some of the crews used fiber-optic cameras to scout the affected areas.
Image Source: HNGN