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This tactical camera sphere can give police a quick peek into dangerous situations

A startup in Boston is releasing its first line of tactical camera spheres, which can be tossed into dangerous areas to snap photos, instantly stitch together panoramic images, and send those images to a smartphone. They’re meant to give police and first responders a helpful tool to get a quick glimpse of hazardous situations.

Bounce Imaging’s work to create these softball-sized tactical camera spheres has been known for a few years now, but the company is finally ready to release them into the real world. The invention, called the Explorer, is essentially a ball with a thick rubber shell housing a six-lens camera and LED lights.

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“When activated, the camera snaps photos from all lenses, a few times every second. Software uploads these disparate images to a mobile device and stitches them together rapidly into full panoramic images,” according to MIT News. The Explorer is aimed to help police and first responders, who often deal with dicey unseen circumstances.

The Explorer police camera ballThe first line of The Explorer will be released by the startup in July. Bounce Imaging will initially distribute 100 Explorers to police departments across the U.S., with plans to provide them to first responders and others soon after.

The Explorer’s custom six-lensed camera pulls raw images into a single processor. Thanks to image-stitching software developed by engineers at the Costa Rican Institute of Technology, the ball can stitch multiple images together in a fraction of a second. Bounce Imaging CEO Francisco Aguilar says after the Explorer is polished in the market, the company will see how it can use its image-stitching software in drones, video games, movies, and smartphones.

The tactical camera ball also acts as a wireless hotspot so a mobile device can quickly download images directly from the sphere, which is particularly helpful in situations where a Wi-Fi network may not be available.