Unseen places will no longer be able to hide gunmen or survivors from cops and first responders; thanks to MIT alumnus Francisco Aguilar. His company Bounce Imaging had invented a gadget called ‘Explorer’ which will be released in July. Time had named the device one of the best inventions of 2012. Apart from this, it received praise from Wired, the BBC, NBC and Popular Science.

The ‘Explorer’ is a throwing ball bearing cameras and sensors providing a 360 degree view. It can be thrown into hidden areas and will be able to send panoramic images back to a smartphone.

The device is covered with a thick rubber shell and is of the size of a softball. There is a camera with six lenses fitted inside, peeking out at different spots around its circumference along with LED lights. The camera snaps photos from all lenses, a few times every second once the ball is activated. The software then uploads these images to a mobile device and coverts them into panoramic images. That video is stitched together using a load-lightening algorithm created by the Costa Rican Institute of Technology.

Camera Ball

The $1400 tactical throwing ball shares its 360 video feeds with Android and iOS smartphones, via Wi-Fi, and it give first responders last-second intel that saves lives. The imagery is moderated by a central processor. Having a range of sixty feet through a standard wall, the ball can also put up a light show.

The company will deploy 100 Explorers to police departments across the nation. This first model is a test and aims to gather feedback of the police as the company plans to increase its customer base through recommendations of its first customers. The ball also serves as its own wireless hotspot In the future models of the gadget, the Boston based startup will soon add sensors for radiation, temperature, and carbon monoxide in future models.

According to the MIT news site, The Explorer was initially developed for first responders. But after being swept up in a flurry of national and international attention from winning the $50,000 grand prize at the 2012 MassChallenge, Bounce Imaging started fielding numerous requests from police departments — which became its target market.

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CEO Aguilar says “We’re trying to see what exciting things we can do with the imaging processing, which could vastly reduce computational requirements for a range of industries developing around immersive video.”

Bouncing Imaging is also planning to pitch the ball to content creators in the field of virtual reality to change the game of sports. Aguilar says that Bounce Imaging may option its image-stitching technology for drones, video games, movies, or smartphone technologies.