Bouncy-ball cameras scout out dangerous situations

| | Updated on: Oct 29, 2012

Researchers have designed a new ball camera that can produce a 360-degree view of a place and could help fire-fighters or security teams scout out the potentially dangerous environments they are about to enter.

Researchers from the Boston-based start-up Bounce Imaging, developed a device containing a clump of cameras, electronics and LEDs packed into a rubber shell the size of a tennis ball.

The device contains six cameras. When the ball is thrown into an unknown area, the cameras take two photographs per second and send them to a smartphone or laptop, where software knits the images into a 360-degree view of the room, the ‘New Scientist’ reported.

The cameras capture light in the near-infrared range, and the device comes equipped with infrared LEDs, allowing it to build a full panorama of a scene even if it is poorly lit.

Bounce founder Francisco Aguilar says the idea for the device came to him after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. He saw the need for a reconnaissance device that would be useful in environments like the damaged buildings of Port-au-Prince.

At a few hundred dollars, Bounce is much cheaper than the existing technologies used to image the inside of unknown areas. This means officers won’t have to worry about breaking the equipment, the report said.

Aguilar suggests that a future version of the device might have a Geiger counter to get initial readings on suspected radioactive areas.

The device is still a prototype, but Aguilar says the finished product will be tested by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams and Massachusetts police departments in January.

Published on October 29, 2012

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