The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

A Bouncing Ball To Make Danger Zones Safer

Bounce Imaging’s Explorer Ball could do reconnaissance for military troops and emergency responders

1 min read
A Bouncing Ball To Make Danger Zones Safer

Some of the best gadgets seem obvious in retrospect. One of those may turn out to be the Explorer Ball from Bounce Imaging, in Boston.

The appeal of the Explorer Ball is simple. Firefighters, disaster rescue workers, SWAT teams, or military troops can find themselves needing to enter an environment about which they know nothing. And surprises, in a military or rescue situation, can be a really bad thing. So getting an instant, up-to-the minute, detailed panoramic view of the environment would be really helpful.

The technology is clearly available. After all, a smartphone can create a panoramic image in seconds, one that you can easily scan through or enlarge. But how do you get that kind of smartphone capability into a potentially dangerous place before going into the place itself?

The answer, it seems, is obvious. You throw it.

Getting from that obvious answer to a camera-toting, Wi-Fi connected, extremely durable, throwable object is the hard part. And Bounce Imaging, launching at DemoFall 2013 last week, admitted that it’s not quite there yet. But it’s close. The prototype Explorer Ball carries six cameras and a Wi-Fi transmitter; it sends the images to a mobile device, where an app stitches them together into a panorama. It includes the capability to add sensors, say, temperature or carbon monoxide. And it carries a microphone and can transmit audio. What it can’t do quite yet is survive a hard fall, but the company is working on that and expects to have durability testing finished this year, in time to start field testing in a few months.

Bounce Imaging is planning to sell an emergency responder version for about $1000, a military version for something under $3000.

Photos: Bounce Imaging

The Conversation (0)

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Vertical
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}