I remember when I first got my iPhone, I thought the feature that allowed you to have a front facing and back facing camera was pretty cool. Now imagine that you could have a camera that looks several directions at the same time. This is the concept that MIT graduate Francisco Aguilar has brought to life. His invention, the Bounce Imaging Explorer, is a small black sphere with several different cameras and sensors. The camera has the ability to quickly take panoramic photographs once it is activated. The most important use for this new technology is in emergency response situations. Aguilar, who created the invention in response to the devastating earthquakes in Haiti in 2010, said:
“The initial thought was, how could we create something that was easy to use, that could allow a first responder, or even a volunteer, to easily look inside a space to determine whether it was safe to enter it, to see if there was a victim inside. And that moved from search and rescue, to police who often face hostage situations: aggressive shooters, or terrorism. To fire fighting applications, where people often want to search different rooms in a complex, before having to enter or decide whether there is a fire or not. So there’s a common problem across first responders of having to decide whether to enter a house or a space. And we are trying to make it cheap and easy to get images while they are out of there.”
The Bounce Imaging Explorer has a strong shell which allows it to be thrown into dangerous environments. It also has heat sensors, Geiger counter, vibration antennae, and smoke detectors for information on certain disasters. Once the Explorer is thrown into the emergency situation, it quickly takes panoramic pictures and broadcasts the results back to users’ mobile devices so that they are aware of the potential dangers of the situation. Aguilar hopes to start producing the BIEs next year and his goal is to keep the cost under $1000.
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