It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie: a
spherical camera that can be thrown into tight spaces to see what is happening.
The founders of a Boston, Ma.-based company called Bounce Imaging, Francisco Aguilar and Dave
Young, want to make it a reality. The camera could be used by first responders, law enforcement officers or soldiers
to scope out a room before entering it.
The technology itself isn't all that complex: the ball has six
cameras, each facing in a different direction and is equipped with accelerometers,
gyroscopes and sensors for temperature, as well as infrared LEDs. The
spherical casing is tough enough and bouncy enough that the device can be
The images it sees, along with any other data, are
transmitted to a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet.
Spherical cameras have been built before; there is even a
military model called the Eyeball R1,
built by Israeli company ODF Optronics. But it costs $5,000. Bounce Imaging
hopes to sell their device for a fraction of that.
Cost is an important consideration because there might be
some situations where the camera has to be left behind or is thrown somewhere
that it gets damaged. Currently there isn't any way for the ball to roll back
to the thrower.
While it might sound like a useful technology, this kind of
sensor has encountered
skepticism before. The Eyeball, for example, might roll behind a couch or
other object and not be able to "see." And if a soldier or police
officer is going to throw something into a room then it might be a better idea
to use a flash-bang grenade. It's likely first responders would be using it
before the police or military.
Meanwhile the device isn't in production yet. The founders,
former students at MIT's Sloan School of Management, won $50,000 in seed money
from MassChallenge, a local startup
incubator, as well as $10,000 from VenCorp's NYC Impact Challenge.
Credit: Bounce Imaging