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Bounce Imaging creates a superball for first responders

It’s an invention that could change horror movies as we know them. What if, instead of having to walk into the creepy darkness holding a flashlight with batteries that will, inevitably, give up the ghost just before you reach the Very Scary Thing that is lurking at the back of the room, you could just through a rubber ball filled with cameras into the room and see what lay in wait? Bounce Imaging, you may have just ended a classic horror trope in one fell swoop… or perhaps come up with the plot of Paranormal Activity 5.

The device is the creation of the Boston-based company, and the brainchild of Bounce Imaging founder Francisco Aguilar. He told New Scientist that he originally had the idea in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, imagining the need for what he describes as a “reconnaissance device” with multiple cameras installed that could go where traditional devices couldn’t. The result is a ball with six cameras installed that take two photographs per second and wirelessly transmit them to a nearby device where the images are digitally reconstructed to offer a 360-degree image of the surrounding area. Alongside the cameras – which capture light in the near-infrared range – will be infrared LEDs, to allow the cameras to capture images no matter how dark the areas may be where it’s been sent to.

Even so, that’s not enough for Aguilar. He went on to say that future versions of the device may also include a Geiger counter, to allow the device to also be used to take early readings on suspected radioactivity in particular areas, making it an even more indispensable device to first responders of all stripes. Despite all of these elements being included, the device is only the size of a tennis ball (and thanks to its rubber coating, as bouncy as one as well), and also surprisingly cheap. Apparently, current costs have each device as “a few hundred dollars,” meaning that the devices won’t exactly be disposable, but are certain not irreplaceable… A plus, considering how dangerous some of the areas they may be sent into could turn out to be.

The device is still in prototype stage, but according to Aguilar, it should be ready to be beta-tested in the field by the start of 2013, when Massachusetts police and SWAT teams will start deploying it in the field. That deployment is eagerly anticipated by Bernard Hicks, a SWAT-team officer who spoke to New Scientist in an unofficial capacity, saying that “Incidents with active shooters are so volatile. Whether it’s one officer or two officers on scene, this technology gives them the opportunity to know the dangers around the corner before they get to them.”